§ Considered in Committee. (Progress, 19th October.)
§ [Captain BOURNE in the Chair.]
§ IMPERIAL PREFERENCES, SECURITY OF PREFERENCES GRANTED TO THE DOMINION OF CANADA, AND GENERAL PROVISION FOR GIVING EFFECT TO THE AGREEMENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENT MADE AT THE IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE HELD AT OTTAWA.
Question again proposed,
That it is expedient—
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir John Simon)
The first day's Debate on this Resolution taken on Tuesday provided, it seems to me, an epitome of the arguments that may be fairly used for or against the proposal that is before the Committee, and the excellent speeches that were made in different parts of the Committee yesterday still further explored the ground. I think, therefore, that there is not much new matter, but now that we have the view expressed in its most plausible shape against this proposal by my right hon Friend the late Home Secretary, we are in a position, after a day or two's reflection, to look at the argument as he has presented it. My right hon. Friend concluded his speech by stating that he and those who act with him should not be uncharitably judged, and claiming that they had acted from what they conceived to be a sense of duty. Nobody in any quarter of the Committee would question his right to make that claim, and it is willingly conceded, and I say so all the more because of the admirable good temper and the skill with which he presented his arguments. But I, for one, take an entirely different view, and believe that the majority of those who were returned to this House at the last election as Liberals take a wholly different view.
I am going to offer an argument on the other side in the same friendly spirit in which my right hon. Friend put forward his view. First, my right hon. Friend raised a great constitutional issue, and, indeed, he took the Chancellor of the Exchequer to task because, though this constitutional point had been previously made public, the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not deal with it in his opening speech. I will do my best shortly to deal with it now. The right bon. Gentleman spoke of thevery grave objection to which public expression has been given and to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made no reply,and he referred to this objection asa matter of supreme constitutional importance,raised, I gather, not only as a matter of principle, but as a matter of constitutional practice. Let us see. I will use his own words to define the practice. He has laid it down in the most absolute terms. He said: 339All our commercial agreements contain a clause—it is common form—that they are terminable sometimes on three months' notice, sometimes six months' notice, and occasionally 12 months' notice."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th October, 1932; cols. 65–71, Vol. 269.]The point which has been most clearly put is this: It is contended that, alike in principle and in practice, it is unconstitutional for the executive to bind the House of Commons in negotiating a commercial treaty outside this island in a matter of taxation for more than 12 months.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I take a certain interest in the constitution, and I thought I would go to, perhaps, the best sources for the purpose of ascertaining whether it is our constitutional practice. There are two Departments of the Government that are most concerned with our commercial treaties. One Department is the Foreign Office, and the other Department is the Board of Trade, and what I am going to state to the Committee is the position as stated to me by the responsible permanent officials of those two Departments. The Foreign Office say:Our commercial treaties usually contain an article providing that they must remain in force for a stated number of years after their entry into force (the number of years varies from one or two to 12) and then, on the expiry of this stated number of years, they go on until they are denounced upon 12, or six or three months' notice.The officials of the Board of Trade inform me:There is no validity in the contention that it is a constitutional innovation for His Majesty's Government to undertake long-term obligations with regard to the duty which shall he charged on specified kinds of goods coming from particular countries. There is nothing new in an undertaking in a treaty which binds Parliament for a period of years with regard to the duties which may be imposed upon particular kinds of goods.That, at least, is the information which is given to me by the authorities of the Departments, but in order that I may know that I have really got hold of the right point, I return to the right hon. Gentleman's speech last Tuesday. The Committee will remember that my right hon. Friend referred to a controversy which has arisen about our commercial treaty with Greece. It so happens that 340 the Lord President of the Council, speaking at Blackpool, I think—something took my right hon. Friend to Blackpool—himself put the point with reference to our commercial treaty with Greece, and in the Debate last Tuesday the late Home Secretary took up the point and said:My right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council in his speech the other day said that the whole of my argument is disposed of by the fact that we had made an agreement with Greece to the effect that the duty upon currants should not be more than 2s. That agreement is an admirable example.I hope we shall not hear anything from my right hon. Friend the late Home Secretary suggesting that I am not dealing with the right point. He went on to say:By that agreement, if we desire to impose a higher duty on currants, if we gave notice to Greece today we could do it next year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th October, 1932; col. 66, Vol. 269.]I have got here from the Foreign Office library the treaties in question. There was a commercial treaty made with Greece in the year 1890, and it provided, as my right hon. Friend has stated, that during the currency of the treaty we would limit our right to tax currants that come from Greece by the figure of 2s., and it goes on to say:The above arrangement shall have the sane duration as the treaty of the 10th November, 1886.We have, therefore, to go back to the Treaty of 1886 to find out what that does. If you go back to the Treaty of 1886, you will find that that treaty, and therefore also the Treaty of 1890, was to remain in force for 10 years from 1886.The present Treaty shall come into force on the exchange of the ratifications, and shall remain in force for 10 years, and thereafter until the expiration of a year from the day in which one or other of the Contracting Parties shall have repudiated it.There follows a sentence which, I have no doubt, has misled those who have been informing my right hon. Friend. The Committee will observe that up to the moment, although the treaty is spoken of as remaining in force for 10 years, and thereafter until the expiration of a year from the day when the treaty should be repudiated, they made no express provision how that is to be done, and they say: 341Each of the Contracting Parties reserves, however, the right of causing it to terminate upon 12 months' notice being given previously.I am not going to offer the Committee my own opinion. I have consulted the officials of the Board of Trade as well as of the Foreign Office, and they tell me that there is not the slightest doubt in the minds of any of them that the provision in this treaty, which is to last for 10 years, is, on its proper understanding, a minimum certain period and the Clause which follows makes it plain that if you give notice at the end of the ninth year it will come to an end at the end of the tenth year, and so on.
But in order that I may put my right hon. Friend entirely at ease on the point, let me inform him, if he does not happen to have noticed it, that these treaties with Greece are out-of-date, and the present commercial treaty with Greece is a commercial treaty of 1926. If at his leisure he will examine the commercial treaty with Greece, 1926, he will find that in Article 8 the provision limiting the duty on currants to 2s. is repeated, and that Article 32 is quite unambiguous, and says:The present treaty shall be ratified and the ratifications shall be exchanged at London as soon as possible. It shall come into force immediately upon ratification, and shall be binding during three years from the date of its coining into force.I can assure my right hon. Friend that there is not a word in the treaty from beginning to end embodying this sacred principle that all our commercial treaties shall contain a Clause that they shall be terminable at six or 12 months' notice. As a matter of fact, it would be very odd if it were so, because, of course, negotiating a commercial treaty is sometimes an extremely laborious business. It may occupy negotiators sometimes for months or even years. As the Prime Minister pointed out yesterday, it may be that a commercial treaty involves a long-term operation, and what on earth would be the good of offering a preference in the matter of apples if I am at liberty to cancel it at, the end of six months? Who would plant an apple tree?
The extraordinary thing is that the most classic case of all, the one which every student of this subject knows, appears to have completely escaped the attention of those who have been advis- 342 ing the late Home Secretary. He referred in his speech to the year 1860, and to the financial discussions in this House in that year, but, most amazingly, he never seems to have had his attention called to the Anglo-French Agreement of 1860. Let me read two Clauses of the Anglo-French Agreement of 1860. That was a commercial agreement under which we secured—and the Lancashire Members would be glad of it—better terms of entry for cotton goods into France as well as other products in return for giving to France a free list on one set of articles and a lower tariff on another set of articles. When I look at Article 21 of this famous Anglo-French Treaty I read:The present Treaty shall remain in force for the space of 10 years, to date from the day of the exchange of ratifications.There is not a syllable in the Treaty from beginning to end to provide for any termination at anybody's will at three months or any other short notice. Who was it who negotiated the Treaty? It was Mr. Richard Cobden. And who was it who took, as he was entitled to take, for the Government, great credit for the Treaty? It was Mr. Gladstone. And what was the character of the opposition which was set up to the Treaty of 1860? I will venture to recommend to my right hon. Friend, when he has a little spare time, that he should read the debates which took place in 1860 when the Anglo-French Commercial Treaty which provided for a 10 years minimum term was put before this House. There is a passage here that when I read it first I thought almost must have been pronounced by the right hon. Gentleman himself. Let me read it. A Member is objecting to the Treaty. Let the Committee consider the language of this Member, now long passed away, and see how he has become re-embodied in the person of my right hon. Friend. This gentleman was Mr. Horsman, and the passage is to be found in column 248, of Volume 157, Parliamentary Debates (Third Series). He said:If there be one right which more than another it becomes the Parliament of England to guard most vigilantly, it is that which gives us a complete control over our domestic, and especially over our fiscal arrangements, so that we might be able to increase, to diminish, or to modify our national expenditure or our fiscal regulations in accordance with what may happen to be the true interests and the real exigencies of our own people.343 That was exactly the argument which we heard last Tuesday. The speech continues:Now, by entering into a treaty of reciprocity, this is a right we abandon; and, having concluded this Treaty with France, we shall have no power next year to rectify any omissions or oversights which may be found in it. We give up our legislative freedom; we barter it away to another Power; so that the control over the taxation of England will no longer rest exclusively with her own Parliament, but will be, as it were, a portion of the business of the French Government.If one were to substitute the Dominions for France, one could almost suppose that Mr. Horsman, who was a Member of this House in 1860, had received a reincarnation in the person of the Free Trade Member for Darwen. In spite of all that, that argument was all brushed aside, and for a very good reason, namely, that as a matter of fact if you want to secure a commercial bargain, in many cases in reference to the rates of duties in another country, you must be prepared to make an agreement for a reasonable length of time.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
May I say, first, that my right hon. Friend would have found that argument much snore forcibly stated in the Debates of 1860 by Sir Stafford Northcote, who expressed it much more strongly on behalf of the whole of the Conservative party of that day, who objected to the 10 years' period? Secondly, might I ask whether it is not the ease that all our commercial treaties with foreign countries now in existence could be terminated without exception within six months or 12 months from the present date, as the Government are terminating the Russian Trade Agreement? Thirdly, may I ask whether there is a single case in any of our commercial treaties under which Parliament is not free to lower its own taxes, as it is proposed now to make it unfree under the Ottawa Agreement?
§ Sir J. SIMON
Let me deal with all three points. First of all, I am perfectly prepared to agree that the point put so well in the passage I quoted was put even better by another Conservative Member. Exactly how that helps my right hon. Friend I have not the least idea. There is such a thing as being more royalist than the King, but for an advanced Free Trader and a Liberal, in 344 the year 1932, to wish to found himself upon observations made in 1860, which were then rejected by Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Cobden—well, I do not understand it. As regards my right bon. Friend's second question, I will give an equally plain answer. He is still under the impression—I hope he will not think it discourteous if I say he is still under the delusion—that there is some overriding principle that is to be found lurking in our commercial treaties that in any one we like and at any time we can put an end to it in six or 12 months. It is not true. I have a list here, and if necessary I will make it a White Paper, of endless commercial treaties which must exist for much longer periods than that.
As regards the actual observations which the right hon. Gentleman made about the Greek Treaty, I acquit him altogether, of course, of choosing his words with any but the most candid of intentions, but, as a matter of fact, the words he used were literally right, but they convey, unintentionally, a false impression. He said about the Greek Treaty:By that agreement, if we desire to impose a higher duty on currants, if we gave notice to Greece to-day"—That is, on the 18th of October, 1932"—we could do it next year."—[OFFCIAL REPORT, 18th October, 1932; col. 66, Vol. 269.]That is quite true, and the reason is that the minimum period of three years had already elapsed. Lastly, my right hon. Friend is reduced to a refinement which is very amusing. Having begun by laying down this tremendous constitutional principle backed by a universal constitutional practice, he is now seeking to draw a distinction between cases in which the Executive for a period of years agree to fix a limit above which a duty may not rise, and cases in which they agree to fix a limit below which it cannot fall. There is, obviously, no conceivable constitutional distinction, for in both cases and in an equal degree it is an interference technically with the active, free action of the House of Commons. I do not mean to say that the House of Commons would not retain the smallest atom of its power. Of course, notwithstanding that you have entered into a long-term agreement, it is open every year when the Budget is debated for anybody to move 345 to reduce a tax, even though we had promised to keep it up. Indeed, I understand the right hon. Gentleman to give notice now that if he and his friends at any time within the next five years are in a position to form a Government, it will be open to him to act as he suggests. Most people have taken the view that when an Executive has entered into a treaty, when it has been negotiated by responsible people, when it has been ratified on both sides, the treaty stands. But my right hon. Friend takes the view that it is better to give notice now that he would not regard it as binding—he is quite entitled to do so—and the difficulty which arose the other day, when we had a very important discussion with Mr. de Valera, was that he took the view that what Mr. Cosgrove had signed did not bind Mr. de Valera.
§ Mr. de ROTHSCHILD
What is the right hon. Gentleman's view as to Mr. Mackenzie King's attitude on this point?
§ Sir J. SIMON
I am making no complaint against anybody; I am merely registering the facts. There is one further thing which I was asked just now by my right hon. Friend. Let me help him by telling him of a real case in which there was a six months' notice. There are cases in which we have negotiated and signed commercial treaties with quite a short time to run if we gave notice. The one I have in mind is the Agreement which we made not so long ago with Soviet Russia, and that was why we were able the other day to give six months' notice to terminate it. I apologise to the Committee for having spent so long on this, but we must realise that up and down the country my right hon. Friend has been making this one of the great points in his criticism. It, is in his letter of resignation; at Newcastle he described it as a "very grave constitutional objection," because it interfered with the power of the House of Commons to deal with taxation as it thought fit; and at Wolverhampton he used this language:This country should enjoy self-government without control from the Colonies.I hope very much that, at any rate as far as regards the constitutional point, we have heard the last.
§ Sir J. SIMON
At least, we are able to measure the value and the trust which 346 may be put behind the argument on which my right hon. Friend depends. As far as we are concerned, the position is quite simple. As a matter of common sense, does anybody really suppose that you could negotiate a complicated commercial treaty for months and months, involving a long-term policy, with the additional clause that the whole thing could be brought to an end in three months? That reminds me of the epitaph in the country churchyard on the babe that died very soon after it was born:If I should so soon be done for, I wonder what I was begun for.I should have thought, assuming that a man who had strong Free Trade traditions was prepared to contemplate this class of arrangement at all, the length of the term of the arrangement would have been one of the strongest arguments in its favour. After all, one of the biggest objections to this system of tariffs, it is true, is lobbying. There are people outside there, and sometimes inside the House, too, keeping people who are there in order to promote the particular interests of a particular industry, and are paid to do it. If you provide that these things are open to review every six months or every 12 months, you are making a paradise for everybody who wants to go in for lobbying, and that is perfectly well recognised.
There was a World Economic Conference in the year 1927. I think my right hon. Friend will remember it, because he made a speech about it shortly afterwards at the Guildhall in London. The Conference was at Geneva, and one of the most important of our delegates was Sir Walter Layton. The head of the Economic Section of the League of Nations, Sir Arthur Salter, was closely associated with the Conference; and I have here the resolutions of that Conference. One of them, dealing with tariff questions, says:In order to give to international commerce the necessary guarantees of free development on an equitable basis, it is also necessary that States should enter into commercial treaties for long periods guaranteeing fair and equal treatment as regards Customs duties.I see the right hon. Gentleman agrees. Then let us see where we are. We are agreed that this Measure shall be regarded as a commercial treaty. He insists that that is its character, and I agree with him. Does he or does he not 347 think it desirable, if you have a commercial agreement dealing with tariff matters, that it should be for a long period?
§ Sir J. SIMON
I should have thought that was what they did. As a matter of fact, the right hon. Gentleman was so pleased with the World Economic Conference that he went not long afterwards to the Guildhall in London and made a speech in which he called attention to its remarkable achievements:Remarkable in this work were the achievements of the Economic Conference held at Geneva. It arrived at unanimous conclusions. Fifty nations were represented there by 194 delegates and 157 experts, yet they were unanimous.4.30 p.m.
If I may say so with all respect to my right hon. Friends, I have once or twice thought that on reflection they do not feel too sure of their position. At any rate, I detect two very different tones in what they say. When the right hon. Gentleman goes to Darwen, he describes the Ottawa Agreement as "this preposterous Agreement." When he broadcasts, he says, "The Ottawa Agreements are completely bad." I do not think he is quite so unrelenting in his criticism in the House. When one looks at the Speaker's Notes and in the official publication of those who act with him, one finds this passage on Ottawa. It is in the "Liberal Magazine" for September:The best that can be said about the results of the Ottawa Conference is that they might have been much worse than they are.The editor goes on to sayWe cannot say that Ottawa has introduced any new fiscal principle; in fact, it is, on the whole, a less serious incident than the Import Duties Act.Then occurs this passage, which has been provided for the assistance of those who support my right hon. Friend. Of the five years agreements, it says:If protectionist agreements with the Dominions were to be made at all, it was perhaps, inevitable that they should be made for a definite period.I wait with great interest to see which of the two tones is developed in any future discussion. My right hon. Friend reminds me on this constitutional point of the practice which obtains, I believe, 348 in the American law courts, where, when a lawyer does not much like a question put to a witness, but does not know why he objects, he says to the judge: "I object to that question on the ground that it is irregular, irrelevant, unresponsive, and a breach of the Constitution of the United States."
I should like to take a second serious class of objection. It was contained in the letter which, to our great regret, our colleagues wrote when they resigned. They said:In our view, the whole policy of hard bargaining' on trade matters between the Governments of the different parts of the Empire is wrong.Is that what we are to understand? I was very much interested to read in the OFFICIAL REPORT this morning a speech by my hon. Friend the senior Member for Dundee (Mr. Dingle Foot) in the course of which he protested:We do not object to bargaining within the Empire any more than to bargaining outside the Empire."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th October, 1932; col. 217, Vol. 269.]Now, which is right? This proposition that you object to the whole idea of hard bargaining on trade matters between the Governments of different parts of the Empire cannot be based on any difference between hard bargaining and soft bargaining. I know the old argument very well, and as long as we were on a Free Trade basis there was much to be said for it. It is true, that if you try to negotiate these difficult and delicate things with different Governments under the British Crown, it does raise many sensitive and difficult questions, and it has to be done with great skill and tact. But it is far too late to raise that point as an objection, for Imperial Preference, for good or for evil, has been a settled part of British policy ever since 1919. In the second place, this objection is not an objection that the Ottawa Agreements are not satisfactory. It is an objection that there are any Ottawa Agreements at all. The only position a man can take up who says, "My principle is that I am all against hard bargaining in trade matters between the Governments of different parts of the Empire," is, "I was hoping against hope that at the end of the Ottawa discussions the thing would break down."
I give my right hon. Friends too much credit to suppose that they hoped for 349 that. As a matter of fact, they seem to me to be in a hopeless dilemma on the point, for they go on to say that their great concern, the thing which gives them the most anxiety, now that an agreement has been made at Ottawa is what will happen to the World Economic Conference; that it is so important that we should be able to negotiate on advantageous terms for the extension of our trade with foreign countries. That is to say, there is no objection to making commercial treaties and tariff bargains with foreign countries, and yet, according to this doctrine, the thing is wrong in itself arid wrong in principle, because we are trying to do it with the Dominions. As to the suggestion that the work of the Economic Conference has been ruined because Ottawa has succeeded, hon. Members will have in mind what the Prime Minister said in the last words of his speech on Tuesday night. He said that the heavy burden was likely to fall on him to preside at this World Economic Conference, and that he would undertake the burden, if he was called upon, and would do his best; but he said that if we had to start that Conference with the assumption that we were unable even within the British Commonwealth to arrive at such agreements, though we had tried to reach them, then indeed he would think it was a desperate task to do so at the other Conference.
The real position is this. It is absolutely untrue to say that because of Ottawa we cannot bargain with foreign countries. It, is true, however, that in some respects our freedom is limited. I have some reason to know the position because of what happens at the Foreign Office almost every hour of the day. I assure the Committee that since the Import Duties Act came on the scene, and again now that the Ottawa Agreements have been produced, we are constantly invaded to a quite unusual extent by the representatives of different countries who want to negotiate. Presumably Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Argentine know their business as much as any hon. Member. I will give the right hon. Gentleman a reason; it is a perfectly simple one. He referred in his speech to the efforts made by the late Mr. William Graham to bring about a tariff truce. That effort entirely failed; it produced no concrete results. Everybody who remembers Mr. Graham knows that 350 he was an ingenious man, a courageous man, and a persistent man. He knew the whole business from A to Z, but his efforts entirely failed. He tried to get a tariff truce with some seven industrial countries in Europe. Why did he fail? It was not through any fault of Mr. Graham; it was because as long as you attempt to negotiate these agreements on behalf of a country which is standing absolutely firm and solid on a Free Trade basis, though there are great advantages to be derived from that basis, you are immensely handicapped in your negotiations.
In the first place, what can you do to induce foreign countries to give you a good deal? No doubt you can say, "I have it in my hand to put a tax on your products, and I will negotiate with you whether I will do so or not according to what you do." Then you have a basis on which to negotiate. Mr. Graham never had that, and that is why he failed. The second reason is that if a foreign country is going to make a commercial agreement, you must put the foreign country in a position to prove to its own people, and to its protected manufacturers if you like, that there is something to be gained in return for what they are giving up. Mr. Graham, with all his ingenuity and efforts, entirely failed, and he was bound to fail. The instances which have succeeded that of Cobden in 1860 and Ottawa the other day—are two cases in both of which the negotiator had in his power the tariff instrument, to raise it or lower it as an effective bargaining factor in carrying through the negotiations.
The last point which I venture to make is this. It is suggested that the range within which it is now possible to negotiate with foreign countries is so greatly narrowed as not to be worth having. In the first place, the whole range of imported manufactured goods is quite untouched; in 1930 we imported something like £300,000,000 worth of manufactured goods. In the second place, there is a range of foodstuffs which is untouched, and a range of very important raw materials. Further, it will be possible for us now to say to a. particular foreign country, "We can negotiate reasonable terms with you; we will give you the advantage of most-favoured-nation treatment; that is to say, you shall have 351 as good treatment as any other foreign country," without necessarily offering them something which they would get in any case. I can only say that, having looked at the thing in every way, I should not regard the position of this country in the forthcoming negotiations with foreign Powers as by any means fairly described by those lamentations that we hear from my right hon. Friend. It is no doubt true that to a certain extent the field of negotiations is narrowed, but, on the other hand, we have an opportunity now of negotiating a bargain with this country and that that we never had before.
May I endeavour to summarise in three or four sentences what can be regarded as the two sides of Ottawa. Naturally, there are many Members of the Government who would do it with much more fulness and authority, but I have looked at this thing with a sincere desire to form a judgment on it. You must consider, first of all, what the United Kingdom has undertaken to do; secondly, what the United Kingdom has got from the Dominions in return. What has the United Kingdom undertaken to do? Empire produce now comes in duty free under the Import Duties Act and will continue to come in free of duty after 15th November. Is anybody going to complain about that? That is, of course, enlarging the area of free imports. As the Import Duties Act stands, these duties fall on the 15th November on products from our own Dominions. One of the advantages of our negotiating position was that that was the situation under the Import Duties Act, and that therefore we had something to bargain with. That is the first result of the Agreement at Ottawa. Under the Import Duties Act that free entry would have ceased after the 15th November. Because of that free entry of Empire products and other articles on the Free List, to start with, about one-third of our total imports will come in free from any Customs duty.
Secondly, there is the question of what we have to give. On a limited number, about 20, foreign products we have undertaken to impose a slightly higher tariff. Since last March those articles have been subject to the 10 per cent. duty. The Ottawa Agreements provide that on those 352 items there is to be an increased duty of about 5 per cent., 15 per cent, instead of 10 per cent. Thirdly, on a certain number of foreign products the 10 per cent. ad ualorem duty imposed under the Import Duties Act is to be maintained for the period of the Agreement. There are about 38 items. Let us sec what that involves, because what strikes me as very extraordinary is that all the bother and trouble should arise over the Ottawa Agreements, whereas in the earlier stages of this story, though I will not say we were all content, we were at least agreed to differ. Take the figure for 1930. The value of foreign imports subject to duty under the Import Duties Act was £360,000,000. The result of Ottawa is that the new duties on foreign imports will increase that amount by £36,000,000, an increase of slightly over one-tenth. Apparently the figure of £360,000,000 is not to raise anything like the same bother as the addition of another £36,000,000. Take food alone. Under the Import Duties Act—not Ottawa—foreign food stuffs to the value of £126,000,000 were subject to duty. What is the effect of Ottawa on that? As the result of Ottawa, an additional £24,000,000 worth of food stuffs are subject to duty. So what Ottawa means is that food duties covering only one-fifth of what was covered by the Import Duties Act are now in question.
§ Sir J. SIMON
Oh, yes. I have attempted, and I do not think unfairly, to summarise the position. It is true, as I have said, that there are slightly higher duties imposed on certain items. That is what we have got to do. What are we going to get? We must look at both sides. I summarise it in is way. In the first place the Dominions accord increased preferences on certain British goods. I will leave the President of the Board of Trade to deal with this in detail, but in a large number of cases that is secured by the removal of duties—putting things on the free list—or by the reduction of duties, and in other cases by the imposition of increased duties. Equally, if not more important, the Dominions have undertaken to remove prohibitions, surtaxes and primage duties, and I believe to some extent that has already been done. 353 Those are the immediate advantages. What are the long scale advantages, the long term policy The Lord President of the Council pointed it out in the speech which he made when he came back from Ottawa. He said:The biggest thing of all to my mind is the declaration that we have got in the Agreements themselves that Australia and Canada, who have hitherto practised a very much higher scale of Protection than we have any idea of doing, have declared them-selves willing in their future policy to bring their tariffs dawn until we are in a position of a competitor.You may say if you like, "They do not mean it"; but they say that openly; and if, as a matter of fact, that is a fair promise, a truly meant contract, I venture to submit that it is very well worth having.
I know that my hon. Friends feel that, after having played the very patriotic and useful part they did play 12 months ago, they are at liberty now, in view of their very strong and sincere feelings to take their discharge. I reproach no man because he takes that view, but I cannot possibly imagine how they have arrived at it. The late Secretary for Mines made a speech last August in which he said:Whatever the crisis last August"—That is, of the previous year—it is in many respects worse now. I will only say we are face to face with some problems to-day that are too large for any one party in the state to handle.If that was the opinion of my hon. Friend as recently as August last, I wonder what has happened between August and now that could justify him and his friends in their present position? I notice that when Lord Crewe and Lord Reading wrote the letter which was cited they emphasised this aspect of the matter. They said:To overthrow the Government would shake the financial credit of the country, arid thereby bring upon us greater misery and distress than even a mistaken fiscal policy can do. The world, too, is full of troubles, and it is important that in Indian and in European and international affairs generally the Government should have national support.For the moment, I want to make a really grave appeal to any old colleagues of mine who may still find themselves in the position of honest doubt. Some of them may have thought this out and made up their minds one way or another. Allow me, with all possible respect to them to make this submission. Look at 354 the world as it is to-day, look at the problems which this Government has to face on behalf of the nation. Can you really plausibly contend that we are so far delivered from the anxiety of an acute crisis that it is time for us to go different ways and to raise one great question which is only too likely to obscure the national judgment on others I have recently been taking part in the discussions on Ireland, and I have seen the depths and the dangers of the problem we have to face there. We want the whole country and the whole House to help us in every way they can. As to India, hon. Members know I gave a certain part of my life to India, and I have worked as well as I could on the Indian Committee since with a desire to sink any personal view of mine, and to help my colleagues to get a possible constitution. We are right in the very crisis of these discussions. As to unemployment, I hope we shall have no more broadcast appeals addressed to selected classes and inviting the unemployed to blame tariffs for their condition. Surely here is a matter in which no man can say that the situation to day is better than it was when our national effort began. There are also the question of relations with America, the whole problem of the American debt, relations with the Continent of Europe, and this tremendous question of disarmament, on which we have received such valuable, help from the right hon. Gentleman; and I say with all possible solemnity that even if I thought these Ottawa Agreements were as bad as some gentlemen seem to think them I still should, without question, declare that my duty was to maintain the National Government unimpaired.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
I do not wish this afternoon to enter into the very pretty duel between two old friends who have recently fallen out. I must leave others to continue the wrangle over the dead bodies of Mr. Cobden and Mr. Gladstone and to continue their researches into what happened in 1860. I am more concerned with a rather wider aspect of this question, having no doubt that the seceders from the National Government will deal with their own side of the case. I listened with interest to the brilliant speech from the Foreign Secretary but it has not carried us any further forward. 355 During the whole of the Debates on this question we have never had clearly stated what definite economic results are expected to flow from the Ottawa Conference. We have been told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to descend to niggling details. I quite agree. The truth is that the individual duties and preferences will not stand detailed examination, and I am prepared to leave them on one side and to consider what the Chancellor described as "the broader issues." What is the immediate problem which the Government are supposed to be facing? It is to be found in the words used by the Foreign Secretary in the peroration to his speech. In a world of increasing unemployment and dwindling trade, this Government came into existence to reverse those tendencies.
This Government's only justification in the eyes of the people of this country will be that it has done something to restore trade and to increase the volume of employment. That is its supreme duty. It was because it was alleged that we could not deal with this situation that they as a National Government were called into existence, and therefore their primary function—I am not arguing that India and Ireland are unimportant—is the economic problem, the problem of reviving trade and extending trade relations. The Government have attacked that problem on two lines, both of them, in my view, completely irrelevantly. Their first policy was one of economy. Their second policy was one of Protection. The Ottawa Agreements are the logical conclusion of the policy inaugurated in the temporary abnormal import duties and in the more permanent import duties imposed this year. I agree with the words quoted by the Foreign Secretary that this phase of the development of Protectionist policy is far less important than the changes which were made at the beginning of this year, and I personally cannot understand how right hon. and hon. Gentlemen can swallow a whole camel and strain at a small gnat. The Ottawa Agreements also contained certain resolutions which have nothing whatever to do with tariffs, resolutions dealing with economic and industrial cooperation, financial and monetary policy, questions on which there is a hope of real constructive action, but they are there merely as window dressing.
356 5.0 p.m.
There is nothing in the Ottawa Agreements that matters to the National Government and its supporters except tariffs. All the rest is "poppycock," intended to have no meaning. The only thing that interested the Tory-ridden delegation that went to Ottawa was to come away with a complete policy of Imperial Preference in their pockets, and they have done it. It is no good arguing about what anybody said in 1860, it is not much good arguing about constitutional issues; the real question now that these Agreements have been arrived at is, "Are they going to result in an increasing volume of trade and an increasing volume of employment?" and to that question we have had no answer this week. We have had a most guarded statement. There has been no confident note of triumph in the speeches. They have blown hot and cold. The Chancellor of the Exchequer first stood on the leg of high Imperial sentiment, and then he got on to the leg of the huckster. He was not quite sure on which leg he had to stand. There has been from that Bench no assertion that within any period of time, one year or two years, the economic situation is to improve. Even the Government's own supporters do not now believe in tariffs and preferences on their merits. There appear to be two schools of thought on the Government Benches. Tariffs, as we have heard this afternoon from the Foreign Secretary, are a bargaining instrument to bring tariffs down. The other argument, used by the Lord President of the Council, is that if all this does not work we shall have to change it. In spite of the feeling of uncertainty in their minds as to the ultimate results of this policy they have insisted on pursuing it. The opinion of all people whose opinion is worth having on this question, has been, for the last 10 years, that tariffs have been a growing menace and one of the most important contributory factors to the present economic condition of the world. That is admitted.
The Foreign Secretary, amid enthusiastic cheers from his supporters, quoted from the report of the Economic Conference of 1927. I wish to quote from it also, and I will quote more relevant passages. The right hon. Gentleman, with the skill which we all know he possesses, was using his quotation to demolish his old friend; I want to use it to show that in 1927 that Conference 357 unanimously expressed itself in very definite language about the danger of tariffs, and its report was practically agreed to by the world. This is what the Conference declared, in one short sentence:The Conference declares that the time has come to put an end to the increase in tariffs and to move in the opposite direction.It goes on to recommend that the nations should take steps forthwith to remove or diminish those tariff barriers that mainly hamper trade, starting with those which had been imposed to counteract the effects of disturbances arising out of the War.
There is the unanimous voice, of people examining the economic situation of the world five short years ago, concluding that something like normal prosperity under the capitalist system was to be achieved by bringing tariffs down, and nit by adding to the complications of the tariff system. At that time a Tory Government was in office in this country and it never repudiated the conclusion arrived at in that report. Five years afterwards, when five years' more folly has shown that what was said in 1927 was right, the National Government, so called, takes this method as the one method of economic salvation. The truth is, of course, that this is not a National Government. It never was a National Government, and now, with the orphans of the Tory storm sitting on the second bench below the Gangway, it is even less a National Government than it was. The Prime Minister said on Monday, in a speech which he made outside this House, that he maintained an all-party Government. It is no such thing. It is a good Conservative Government with a few hirelings tied to its cart-tail.
I am full of congratulations to the Members of the Conservative party. They have a, few little captives tied to them to give an air of respectability to this policy, which the country has never accepted. It is a Tory policy and a Tory Government. The Liberals swallowed, oh, several bottles full of Tory physic. It was only the last dose that was too nauseating, and made them vomit. The Government is essentially Tory. The speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Tuesday was not the speech of a Member of a, National Government; it was a speech of a Conservative, croon- 358 ing to himself with joy at the success which has been achieved by his party in carrying out Tory party policy. Never was the Prime Minister received with more enthusiastic cheers than when, on the first occasion after 12 months of ominous silence on this question, he came down on the side of Imperial Preference.
At Ottawa the Government allowed itself to be blackmailed by the Dominions. Britain has now been reduced to Crown Colony status. It has not even the independence and self-respect of a Dominion. It is the old type of colony, there to be exploited by its possessor, and its possessor seems to be Mr. Bennett and some of his friends. Was there anything which reflected less credit on a Government than that, at the point of a pistol, it agreed to scrap a trade treaty with Russia which all business men who have any knowledge of the question believe is a potential asset of great value to this country? That was done at the dictates of an outside Power. You can see, if you look at the Agreements, that they are not agreements of real give and take. They are one-sided. We have done all the giving, and the. Dominions are doing all the taking. It is all very well for the Foreign Secretary to read out long lists of duties and preferences, and so on. The point is that we have been given some hundreds of preferences and that most of them are illusory. It is coming out day by day now. Preference to British motor manufacturers; what is that worth? It is not worth the paper it is written on. Preference to certain types of wool textile goods—which are not manufactured in this country at all! Illusory preferences of that kind, the vast majority of them, and the price that we have paid is the increased taxation of foodstuffs and raw materials in this country.
That is not an agreement; it is a case where the Dominions have bludgeoned a number of people, who were Tory at heart and Tory in spirit, and were willing to give way in order to come back with their pockets full of Imperial preferences. That kind of policy is not going to improve our trade situation, but is going to intensify the difficulties with which we are dealing. What have they tried to do with all this complication of duties and preferences? They have tried to drive the shrinking waters of 359 trade into new channels, from which they cannot possibly emerge in the same volume, because many trades and exports will probably just sink into the sand. No one will put the possible value of Ottawa higher than this, that the Agreements might divert trade in one direction or another. I know of no responsible person stating that the result of these Agreements, when in operation, will be to increase trade by £1 per year. A mere diversion of trade into new channels simply does not solve our situation.
One inevitable result of the new preferences, because they help to divert trade, will be intensified competition with foreign nations on the part of the industrialists. The possible gains that there might be to a few iron and steel manufacturers with regard to Ottawa will be more than offset by the losses which will follow in other industries in this country. This conglomeration of economic nonsense is bad enough in itself, but when one considers its possible repercussions on the world it becomes even more serious. The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, writing in that well-established organ, "The Newsletter," said that Ottawa was "a lead to the world." The Foreign Secretary himself referred to the World Economic Conference. So far as I can gather from what he said the Economic Conference is to be another tariff bargaining. It is going to be confined to a little huckstering about tariffs and to driving bargains. I should have thought that the World Economic Conference would have been better occupied on facing the real situation.
Britain, by the Ottawa Conference Agreements, has created an atmosphere which is inimical to the success of the World Economic Conference. The words used by the Dominions Secretary are not going to have a very pleasing effect upon other countries. He said:We have agreed that we will not allow advantages which we meant to accord to the Dominions, or the advantages which they meant to accord to us, to be rendered null and void by action on the part of any foreign Government.That is not the atmosphere which ought to be created for the World Economic Conference. That is a threat to the other nations of the world that if, in their own interests, they undertake economic re- 360 prisals, we shall do the same. That is not the atmosphere for an economic conference, and it is not the atmosphere for an economic conference when men go there fresh from the imposition of new restrictions, the volume of existing restrictions being so large as to have nearly throttled world trade.
In their hearts, the members of the National Government know that this kind of fiscal jugglery is not going to get us out of the difficulties in which we are placed. The policy of His Majesty's Government has been irrelevant. It has not come within a thousand miles of touching what are the real problems of the day. Whether we like it or not—and hon. Members opposite will not like it, because they know that it is true—the capitalist system to-day is creaking and groaning under a load of problems of its own creation which it is unable to solve. The capitalist system to-day is not working properly. Everybody must admit that. It does not know how to solve the biggest economic problem of the world to-day, and it has not tried to bridge the gap between production and consumption. Tariffs and Imperial Preferences are not going to deal with that big problem. The world to-day is carrying a burden of import duties, reparations, and armaments which are draining the life-blood out of industrial enterprises the world over. Tariff manipulations and preferences are not going to touch that problem. There has been a catastrophic and a continual fall in world prices which has penalised producers everywhere, and has everywhere enriched the rentier. Tariffs and quotas applied to individual instances are not going to do anything to deal with the problem of the level of world prices. Lastly, since the War there has been a revival of economic nationalism, which is universally admitted to have been one of the causes of our present difficulties; I do not put it any higher than that. It certainly has intensified the economic situation. But a dose of economic Imperialism is not going to cure the effects of a surplus of economic nationalism; it is going to make the matter worse.
It is only by facing the fundamental causes of the situation to-day that you are likely to find anything like a Teal solution. Our view is that it calls for far-reaching national and international organisation, but this capitulation which 361 is called an agreement—this capitulation to a jumble of private economic interests —is not national organisation. It does not do anything to face the real problem. it does nothing for the efficiency of industry; it does nothing to deal with over lapping organisation; it does nothing to deal with all that category of persons between the producer and the consumer who are robbing both the producer and the consumer. It does not touch these problems at all. I would say that to deal with these real problems which are affecting the lives of our people day by day needs an application of the Labour party's principle of real, effective national control and national organisation. The Ottawa Agreements, in my view, will add new difficulties to the sorely tried capitalist system, and the one good thing which I think may flow from them is that the Ottawa Agreements, designed to bolster up a tottering capitalism, may well be the reason of its final downfall.
§ Mr. AMERY
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), who, I gather, is not very enthusiastic either about the Ottawa Agreements or about the present Government, has drawn two rather different pictures of what happened at Ottawa. The one picture is that a clique of Tory Ministers went there, and, against the wish of the country, carried out successfully the Tory policy of preference which they have always advocated, and which, presumably at any rate, they think to be in the interests of this country. The other picture is that a weak-kneed and unhappy band of British Ministers were bludgeoned by the Dominions, were the unhappy lambs butchered by Mr. Bennett, and unwillingly surrendered the interests of this country in order to save themselves. Is it not, however, at any rate conceivable that a body of Ministers of different political origins may have come to the conclusion that a policy of co-operation in the Empire is worth trying, and that the agreements which have been arrived at represent something hick is in the interests of both parties?
The right hon. Gentleman asked what we had got out of Ottawa, and he proceeded, in highly florid language, to point out that we had got nothing whatever, that all these preferences were illusory. 362 We shall in the later stages of these discussions be able to deal in greater detail with the preferences which have been conceded, but I should like to point out that we have at any rate got one thing in the first instance out of Ottawa, and that is the preservation of the system of preferences which has already meant so much to British trade in the past. It is worth while remembering that, thanks to preferences, fiscal and administrative, the British Empire in recent years has bought 40 per cent. of its purchases from this country, whereas the rest of the world has bought only 14 per cent. of its purchases from this country. It is worth while remembering that, whether or not the Canadian preferences were all that they might have been before, yet, under those preferences, and as a result of those preferences, Canada was buying to the amount of from £30,000,000 to £40,000,000 a year from this country, very nearly as much—certainly three-fourths as much—as the United States with more than 12 times Canada's population. It is also worth while remembering that Australia, with 6,000,000 people, was, during all the years up to the recent economic collapse, buying to the amount of from £55,000,000 to £69,000,000 a year from this country, while one-third of her purchases were on the free list, and was our second best customer in the world. One thing, at any rate, did not happen at Ottawa, namely, a break-down of the Conference, which would have ended in the disappearance of these immensely valuable preferences. On the contrary, our delegates have succeeded in getting a measure of increased preference far greater than I think anyone could have anticipated, and I think they deserve the highest credit for the success of their negotiations.
This is not the occasion to go elaborately into details, but take the Canadian Agreement alone. Is it a merely illusory preference that, in respect of some £6,000,000 of trade, in a bad trade year, the duties on this country should have been reduced from 10, 15, 20 and 25 per cent. to nothing—put on the free list—and that, with preferences running from 10 to 35 per cent., this country is given an opportunity such as it has never had before? In iron and steel, glass, earthenware, chemicals, we are given an opportunity such as we have never enjoyed in the past. At any rate, those who stand to lose most directly by the 363 Agreements, namely, the United States, estimate the transfer of trade from them to this country at anything from £15,000,000 to £25,000,000 a year. Take the Australian Agreement. There, as I have pointed out, thanks to preferences averaging something over 10 per cent. all round, Australia was our second best customer in the world. These preferences are now increased by something like 50 per cent. on an average. The average preference which Australia is going to give us in future will amount to something like 17½ per cent.—15 per cent, on articles where the duty is not higher than 20 per cent., and from 17½ to 20 per cent. where the duties are higher. I think it is perfectly preposterous for anyone to suggest that these Agreements will not result, especially when normal trade conditions are restored, in a very great and substantial increase of British trade.
I want for a moment to turn to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), and to deal with the constitutional issue on which he began by being the only specialist; I think he is not quite so unique this afternoon. I must again apologise to him for having disconcerted him in the course of his speech by firing a shell out of my armoury which, in this particular instance, was a "dud" shell. There are plenty of live ones left. The Prime Minister fired one at him when he pointed out that the German Treaty did very specifically restrict the fiscal freedom of this country for a period of years: and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has dealt very effectively with the subject of the Greek Treaty, and also refreshed that memory of Mr. Cobden's policy which the right hon. Gentleman confessed on Tuesday was not so complete as it might have been. These instances do not stand alone. Let me remind the right hon. Gentleman of the fact that in 1926 we concluded a commercial treaty with Siam the duration of which is for 10 years, subject to termination after 12 months' notice at the end of the ninth year. Let me remind him also of the fact that in 1930 we made a treaty of three years' minimum duration with Rumania.
The right hon. Gentleman asks if any of the agreements restricting our freedom are still in operation. Let me 364 remind him that the Treaty of St. Germain, which very drastically restricted our freedom of fiscal action in East Africa, was for a minimum duration of 10 years subject to reconsideration at the end of that time, and that at the end of that time Mr. William Graham renewed it for another five years. Let me remind the right hon. Gentleman, again, that the Anglo-French West African Treaty of 1898, which definitely limited our right to give preference to Great Britain in our West African Colonies, was one for 30 years' duration before it could be denounced. The right hon. Gentleman asks, are there any commercial treaties in force to-day which cannot be denounced at a few months' notice? I believe that, if he will look up the Anglo-Dutch Treaty, which is still in force, he will find that that Treaty was ratified in 1825 or 1826 and runs in perpetuity; and I believe that there are several in that position.
The whole case that it is the standing rule of the Constitution that no treaty affecting fiscal or commercial matters is made for a period of years, in order to maintain the liberties of the House of Commons, is absolutely ludicrous. The whole constitutional case, as far as that is concerned, is based on a quicksand. At the same time, I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for having raised the constitutional issue. I venture to suggest to him that, in the confirmation of this agreement by the House of Commons, a very important constitutional issue is raised. When a great change of policy is introduced after many long years of discussion, when the trend of public opinon has steadily swung in the direction of that change, when the circumstances of the world themselves have changed in the same direction, and when, finally, Parliament definitely ratifies and endorses that change, then I believe it is for the constitutionally minded statesman, whether he agrees with that change or not, whether he fears its consequences or not, to give that change a fair trial.
Let me remind the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen that this Ottawa Conference was not the first at which this question was raised. Thirty-eight years ago the first Ottawa Conference passed Resolutions in the sense of the agreements that were arrived at the other day. That Conference attracted 365 little attention in the world. A single British delegate, not even a Cabinet Minister, went there, and he brushed aside, as far as the British Government was concerned, the Resolutions of that Conference on very much the same line of argument that the right hon. Gentleman used in this House. That argument then carried weight with this country. But many things have happened since then. The policy which the Dominions put forward in Resolutions in 1894 has been translated by them into action since, and it has been for a generation the policy of at any rate one great party in the State. But what matters much more than party opinion is the trend of opinion in this country itself. When Mr. Chamberlain first declared himself in favour of the Dominion Policy it is not unfair to say that the great majority of the business world stood against him. The banking world, the purely commercial interests, the shipping interest, and the great cotton industry of Lancashire were almost unanimous against him, and elsewhere vast sections of industry looked upon his proposals with doubt and hostility. But all that has changed. Within the last two or three years we have seen the great body of industry, as represented by Chambers of Commerce and industrial bodies, represented in a measure even by the trade unions, coming to a different point of view. When, finally, a Government representing men of different parties puts the name of England to a series of great documents embodying the practical execution of that policy, framed to last the shortest possible time under which such a policy can be given a fair trial, surely it is somewhat short of the highest measure of statesmanship for my right hon. Friend below me to say "that the rule of continuity will not apply etc." that he must be free in the future, if and when he comes into power, to "take such action as to modification or repeal of this agreement as conditions may require," or for right hon. Gentlemen opposite to say, "We of the Labour party declare that we will not be bound by this agreement." When the last great change of tariff policy was embarked upon some 85 years ago, it was fought in this House with no less ability, no less passion, and no less sincerity by others than that with which he is fighting his case to-day. May 366 I remind him of what in the very following year Mr. Disraeli said about that issue. In his election address in 1847, after deploring the change of fiscal policy to which this country had committed itself, he said:I am not, however, one of those who would counsel or who would abet any attempt factiously and forcibly to repeal the Measures of 1840. The legislative sanction which they have obtained requires that they should receive an ample experiment, and I am persuaded that this test alone can satisfy the nation either of their expediency or of their want of fitness.In a speech at Aylesbury a few days afterwards he repeated that statement and added:What is the use of discussion, what is the use of a Legislature if it is not that a great public question is to be settled for a time, at least, by the decision of your representatives? I care not how that decision may have come. It is a Resolution of Parliament and we must see the experiment fairly tried.I commend the precedent and the statesmanship of Mr. Disraeli to my right hon. Friend. There is plenty of room within the ambit of this Agreement for improvements and modifications of the policy, reflecting, perhaps, the attitude of one party rather than another. An hon. Friend of mine interrupted the Foreign Secretary just now by referring to Mr. Mackenzie King's recent declaration. Mr. Mackenzie King is, I think, far too sound a constitutionalist to advocate the tearing up of agreements. What he said was that, if he were in power, he would go beyond the letter of the Agreement that Mr. Bennett had made and would enlarge these preferences to 50 per cent. He does not care for preferences formally bargained, but would be ready to give a voluntary preference. By all means let him do so. By all means let us do so to the Dominions.
What we are doing to-day is not merely reversing the change of 1846, not merely going back from 19th century Free Trade to 19th century Protection. We are endeavouring to meet new conditions. The methods may be different, as circumstances change, but the underlying object we all aim at is the same, mutual reciprocal trade. Unless trade is mutual, we cannot have a trade that is profitable to all concerned. If trade ceases to be mutual and is one-sided, you get all those disastrous phenomena that we have witnessed. You get unemployment. You 367 get hunger in the midst of plenty. The great object of statesmanship is to create a mutual balance of trade and a mutual support of each industry and each worker. That, after all, to do him justice, was Mr. Cobden's object. He never advocated the abolition of tariffs for the mere sake of getting rid of them. His belief always was that, if England gave the lead, others would follow, and you would have a world condition under which everyone would be able to deal mutually and freely with everyone else. It was a fine ideal and in its day seemed much more plausible than it seems at present.
The ideal failed for the simple reason that it took no account of the existence of the nation. Once you think in terms of a nation or of a community, once the statesman or the citizen believes that he has a direct responsibility to his fellow citizens which he does not owe to others, once he believes that his task is to create the greatest amount of strength and prosperity for his own nation and the highest standard of living for his own people, the rule of mutuality and reciprocity has to be applied somewhat differently, and your first concern becomes to see that the citizens of your country support each other and that, while you encourage the freest trade between them, you also, if necessary, take such measures, fiscal and otherwise, as will encourage them to support each other rather than the citizens of another country. That policy, the policy of Protection, is based upon the whole modern conception of the State as an organic community and of the mutual responsibility of citizens towards each other. That policy in very great measure has been a success. In all the civilised world it has displaced the policy that Cobden advocated. It displaced it even in this country a few months ago. It has created immense industries, while I believe it has added far more to the production of the world than would the continuance of a world Free Trade policy in the last 60 or 70 years. At the same time it is true that that policy has come up against difficulties which it cannot solve by itself. Modern conditions, which have caused the world to dwindle, which have laid immense stress on the importance of mass production, make the ordinary nation of to-day too small to serve as the unit of a protectionist policy. The intercourse and competition of trade all 368 over the world, arising from the fact that these small nations are insufficiently equipped with their own resources, lead to friction and difficulty. In times of depression the very measures which individual nations take to look after their own immediate interests, when taken by everyone, tend largely to defeat themselves.
What is the solution of that difficulty? It does not lie in going back to the Cobdenism of the last century. That is an impossible solution. You cannot get rid of the conception of national obligations by a, Government towards its own citizens. The only solution of our difficulties is to find a larger basis for a policy of mutual help and support, and find it by taking some group of nations which are already united, whether by history, by sentiment or by geography, and which can justify a policy of mutual support in trade by the fact that they also mean to live and work together in peace at all times. What we are doing to-day in ratifying the Ottawa Treaty is not reversing the old battle between Free Trade and Protection. So far as that is concerned, that issue was settled in February—if that issue is so dear to my right hon. Friend's heart, he ought to have taken his stand then. It is, on the contrary, the inauguration of a new policy in which the elements of each, both of Free Trade and Protection, are combined in a synthesis which meets the conditions of a new world. If that is so, as I believe, is it not possible for all parties to do what we did for three generations after the adoption of Free Trade, to continue our conflict on other issues, but to accept in the main a great national and Imperial policy based both on the conception of Free Trade and also on the collective protection to Empire trade against the rest of the world? It is precisely that ideal that is championed in the paragraphs of the Ottawa resolution which refer both to the flow of trade within the Empire being facilitated by the lowering or removal of barriers and also to the utilisation of protective duties to ensure that the resources and industries of the Empire are developed on sound economic lines.
That policy to my mind has been most effectively established or, at any rate, initiated at Ottawa. Ottawa is only a beginning, but a very substantial and 369 solid beginning. At Ottawa we have increased mutual trade within the Empire both positively and negatively, negatively by the lowering of inter-Empire barriers, positively by those effective measures of increased preference which see to it that the creative power of our different markets is diverted back again to the common stock of the Empire to continue the development of its resources. That is the policy which has been created, the stimulating, fertile policy of mutual cooperation. It is very different from the policy of drifting along as disconnected units which we have followed for so long.
I have already, in dealing with the right hon. Gentleman opposite just now, pointed out that the preference conceded by the Dominions by these Agreements is very substantial. Those preferences we were told have been achieved as the result of hard bargaining. Undoubtedly, there was earnest and prolonged discussion and hard bargaining. How can anyone imagine that on matters of this immense importance you could secure seven separate commercial Agreements in the space of some four weeks without serious discussion and without, at any rate, considerable initial divergencies of opinion? I cannot imagine any international conference at which we could have got half as far in twice the time. Let me point out one fact about that bargaining. Its object was not to get more from somebody else and give less ourselves. It was not a bargaining in that spirit. The object of the discussions was to make sure that in a common effort every partner was really pulling his weight, and that every member of the Empire was, subject to the limitations of his own circumstances, giving all that he could reasonably afford to give. That alters the whole situation and it profoundly affects the other side of the story.
My right hon. Friend and his friends opposite took the line that what we are giving as the outcome of the Ottawa Agreements are sacrifices out of all proportion to the benefits we have received. They are not sacrifices. There are no sacrifices. Once the Dominions have constituted themselves, as they have done, by far our best customers, then they are customers whom it is to our interest to encourage and to develop. Once we were assured, as we are assured to-day, of the permanent goodwill of the Dominions in 370 this matter, then everyone of the preferences which we have given was worth our while to give even if the Dominions had never asked for it. Everyone of those preferences is something given with one object, and one object only, to strengthen the Dominion market, our best market, and to increase their population. The population can be helped to grow by migration from this country, and, incidentally, it cannot be helped to grow by trade agreements with foreign countries. There you have something which is worth everyone's while, and, so far from talking, as the right hon. Gentleman did, about our having got the worst of the bargain with the Dominions, there is no worst or best of the bargain. We have all got the best of the bargain. Once the policy of co-operation is genuinely and wholeheartedly entered upon we are all benefited and we are all strengthened. That is the reason why we should not only fulfil, both in the letter and in the spirit, the Agreements into which we have entered, but why it is also worth our while doing, what Mr. Mackenzie King has suggested for Canada, namely, going beyond the Agreements and adding, whenever we can see an opportunity, to the preferences we are already giving to the Empire. Every preference which we give will come back to us in renewed strength.
There is, of course, in this connection another fact about these preferences. Almost all of them are preferences which we are giving to ourselves. They are preferences given to Great Britain as an agricultural country, and as a country -which in that respect needs help more than any other. Surely, there again, there is no reason to speak of sacrifices and of being swindled and defrauded. In that connection there is one point to which I should like to draw the particular attention of the Committee, and that is the matter of meat, or rather the decision to deal with this matter by quantitative restriction alone. I entirely agree that at the present moment it may be useful and desirable to introduce quantitative restriction to deal with the position of over-production. But I think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was skating on rather thin ice when he suggested that there was no case for imposing duties because -they would be paid by the foreigner and therefore could not 371 help to raise the wholesale price which he desires. That. depends a good deal upon the amount of the duty. The foreigner may very well pay the whole of a halfpenny or even a penny duty on meat, but if you raise the duty sufficiently he will begin to stop paying and cease sending his supplies, and a, policy of restriction can thus be effected in a perfectly easy and elastic fashion. If the object is to restrict supplies and to raise the price level, that can be done by duty as well as by quantitative restriction.
There is another point in this connection. Even if you prefer quantitative restriction, and even if the foreigner will insist upon paying the duty, why should he not be given that privilege, possibly in aid of the long-suffering beer drinker? One result of raising prices by a policy of restriction is, that you are directly benefiting the foreign producer in respect of his price. I do not see why the extra profit which you are giving him should not be taxed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I note particularly in the case of chilled beef that the Argentine supply is not to be reduced at all but is to remain constant. Owing to the interconnection of the different kinds of meat—the effect of the price falling or rising in one kind upon the other—there is no doubt that the restrictions which are to take place in respect of mutton and lamb and presently in respect of bacon and ham, will also have their effect in raising the price of chilled beef. If so, and if the Argentine producer is to get the same volume of export of beef to this country as he has had in the past and also get a better price, I cannot for the life of me see why he should not make some contribution to the market which is making such admirable arrangements in his favour. I confess that it seems to me there must have been reasons not altogether connected with the pure economic merits of the case which influenced our delegation in this matter.
This brings me to another and very important issue on which I hope that I may crave the indulgence of the Committee for a few minutes before I sit down. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in dealing with this question of meat, dealt with the tremendously important underlying question of price levels. It is true he suggested that the price of meat had fallen, through over-production, 372 even beyond the 25 per cent. general fall which has resulted from other causes. Let me remind the Committee that that fall is the circumstance which has accounted in the main for the economic disasters of the last few years, and is something which in itself profoundly affects every item in the Ottawa Agreements. It is a fall due to many causes, but mainly due to one cause, the monetary cause. That was pointed out with eminent authority and conclusive force by the Macmillan Committee more than 18 months ago. No policy has yet been based on the conclusions of that Committee, and no policy was taken by the British delegation to Ottawa on that issue. Yet the whole meaning and effect of any scheme of preference is profoundly affected by the question of the price level, actual and relative, within the British Empire. The whole assumption on which our arrangements were based was that the different currencies of the Empire would continue to bear the same relation to each other, and, more than that, bear that relation to each other upon a price level which would enable production to continue in the British Empire. But those assumptions are very far from being warranted by the facts, and cannot be maintained unless this question of monetary policy is dealt with far more courageously and definitely than it was dealt with at Ottawa.
Let me remind the Committee of the position. I will take, as my instance, Australia and New Zealand. Here you have Dominions whose export trade has diminished terribly, not so much in volume as in price, and who in consequence were forced to contract their imports if they were to honour their debt obligations. The surcharges and other additional duties imposed in the last few years were not imposed for mere fun, as a mere not of Protectionist fancy! They were imposed to meet a situation of terrible difficulty, and if those Dominions which have undertaken to lower their duties and to get rid of those surcharges, at the same time cannot secure a price level at which their producers can carry on, then their only alternative is to depreciate their currency still further. What will be the result supposing Australia or New Zealand is forced to go another 10 points off sterling? It would, in fact, undo almost every fiscal concession given to us as a result of Ottawa. 373 It would set up, on the part of those Dominions, a new and unfair competition against other Dominions and against our own agriculturists. That was a situation which should have been faced at Ottawa, and which was not faced at Ottawa. We had a wonderful opportunity at Ottawa to give a bold and clear lead to the Conference and to make good the fiscal agreements arrived at by some sort of assurance to the Dominions as to the future course of our monetary policy. Instead of that we were responsible for a very limping, halting, facing-both-ways report which urged the need for higher prices, but suggested that they could best come about if the gold standard countries took their own measures to achieve that purpose. Why should we leave the lead to the gold standard countries? Which are the gold standard countries to-day? There are not half a dozen countries genuinely on the Gold Standard. To all intents and purposes the Gold Standard to-day is not a real standard. It is a subsidiary and token of the American dollar. When the Gold Standard was a sterling standard, managed from London, we were able for many years to control the monetary policy of the world. Are we really impotent now to manage the monetary policy for those countries in the Empire and outside who wish to attach themselves to us to-day? The power is in our hands. Since we went off the Gold Standard we have already raised the wholesale price level of the sterling world by 16 per cent. as against the Gold Standard world, and we can easily, by effective and persistent pursuance of the policies which we have followed during the past few months and by firm declaration of our intention, raise it a good deal further.
The situation is very urgent to-day. Australia and New Zealand are both still on the verge of an economic precipice. India is on the verge of the precipice. It does not matter what form of government we introduce for India; unless we raise the price level there is no form of Government that can pay its way in India much longer. We are told that this question was put back at Ottawa in order to be discussed more effectively at the International Conference. We could have discussed it far more effectively at the International Conference if we had 374 settled our own Empire position first. That is the very point on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister laid such stress when it came to fiscal policy. It is no less true of monetary policy. I regret that with regard to monetary policy, instead of pursuing the policy that they have followed in other matters, they followed the kind of policy that the right hon. Member for Darwen urged them to adopt, namely, to settle nothing until they came to the International Conference. I believe that in that matter and in many others it is on the Empire basis alone that we can settle our affairs.
The logic of Ottawa is destined to carry us very far and in many unforeseen directions, and not in matters of trade alone. Ottawa has introduced a new conception of world organisation, a conception which will affect not only fiscal and monetary policy, but the whole field of politics. It is a conception based on the fact that the solution of the world's problems is to be found, in the first instance at any rate, not in international action, but in concerted co-operative action between great groups of nations, who have some inherent elements of union among themselves and who can build together a unity for all purposes, economic, political and defensive. It is from that point of view that I believe Ottawa is going to be of value to the world as an example of what we in the British Empire can do, and as an encouragement to others to go and do the same for themselves. I hope that our representatives will say when they go to the World Economic Conference: "See what the British nations have done among themselves. Go and do the same. Lower your tariffs to each other and, if necessary as a corollary, raise them against us." We should do better in trading with a united and prosperous Europe, even if we were not admitted to the same position as the different constituent parts of it, than if we trade as we do to-day on a footing of nominal equality with a crowd of bankrupt and starving peoples.
Whatever Ottawa may mean to the world, I believe that it means to the British peoples, and in particular to the people of this country, the beginning of a new age of prosperity—a prosperity beyond anything we in our generation have conceived. Above all, I believe it means the inauguration of a new spirit 375 in our Empire relations, a new spirit of co-operation and of unity, a new sense of our corporate life for every purpose, economic, social, defensive. I hope that that spirit will be found not only in inter-Imperial relations, but will extend itself to the internal relations between classes or races in every community within the Empire. Our delegates have achieved at Ottawa a great and difficult task of mutual adjustment and accommodation in the Imperial field. Let us take courage from their success to deal no less boldly, and I hope no less understandingly, with our own problems nearer home.
§ Sir ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR
Before, I come to the powerful speeches which have been delivered by the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friend who has just sat down, I hope that I shall be allowed, in rising for the first time from a back bench in this Parliament, to express my deep regret at parting from the Prime Minister and from all my late colleagues in the Cabinet, from whom I received so much kindness and consideration and the most patient courtesy. I have indeed been proud to work with them. We have had our differences of opinion on many matters, and in recent months a cleavage has developed on questions of policy which go to the very root of the problem of world economic depression. Differences, however, have always been discussed freely and openly among ourselves, and the close and intimate relations which have existed between us have never been clouded by any shadow of distrust.
I cannot refrain, however, from expressing my regret that the Prime Minister should have gone out of his way at the luncheon which was held in his honour on Monday, and to a lesser extent in the Debate on Tuesday, to cast a suspicion on our motives, to throw stumbling blocks in our new path, to suggest that we were anxious to revert to partisan politics, and, to use his own words, "Whenever a popular cry comes up, to follow that cry." So far from that being the case, I have been scrupulous on every occasion when I have addressed a public audience since I resigned from the Government, on the one hand, certainly, to claim our share of the credit in the success of the measures taken by the Government to 376 deal with the financial crisis which threatened a year ago the very foundations of the State, and, on the other hand, to accept in the fullest degree responsibility for those measures the anticipated unpopularity of which was the prime reason for the formation of the National Government.
It was not to impose tariffs that a National Government was necessary. It was not to make agreements with the Dominions that a National Government. was necessary. It was necessary for none of the things that we are discussing here to-day. It was because the indispensable measures for dealing with the financial crisis were considered to be such as would leave any party Government open to so much misunderstanding, so much criticism, suspicion and devastating unpopularity that the party leaders came forward to form such a Government. By the responsibility which we accept for all those distasteful and unpopular measures I stand, and shall continue to stand, and my colleagues with me.
Further than that, at the General Election we made an appeal for a great national effort to cope with the difficulties with which we were confronted, and to solve those great problems. I submit that the Prime Minister, in his brilliant and forceful speech on Tuesday, failed to state the conditions of that appeal fully and fairly. He did not even give a full account of what was said by the Conservative Ministers and himself. For instance, the Lord President of the Council said:What is the fundamental issue? It is not Socialism, it is not individualism, it is not Free Trade, it is not Protection. Perhaps I should say a word about those who have tried to confuse the issue with attempts to revive the Free Trade-Protection controversy of 25 years ago. That is not the real issue.The Chancellor of the Exchequer said:All these matters are going to he examined carefully, thoroughly, exhaustively, impartially by the National Government when it is formed again. But you have not got to decide to-morrow whether you are going to have a tariff or Free Trade.But the Prime Minister omitted altogether to give an account of what was said by the Liberal Free Traders, if not with his approval at least with his full knowledge and acquiescence. The Free Trade Liberals issued a manifesto in which they said: 377We feel bound to declare our views that whatever emergency measures might be found to be necessary to deal with the immediate situation, freedom of trade is the only permanent basis for our economic prosperity and for the welfare of the Empire and of the world. Taxation on the staple foods of the people has always been opposed by the Liberal party, and would lay fresh burdens on those least able to bear them.That manifesto was submitted to the Prime Minister before it was published. I am far from claiming that that commits the Prime Minister to approval of it, but he cannot now argue that it was inconsistent with—no, indeed it was an essential part of—the appeal of the leaders of the National Government to the country.
Moreover, if there was one single stroke in the course of the election which more than any other contributed to the success of the National Government's appeal, and to which many Members of this House owe their seats, it was the broadcast by Lord Snowden, who, in the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Minister standing in closest political association with the Prime Minister as the head of the Government, said:I do not believe that the Conservative leaders would regard a majority obtained in the circumstances of this election as giving them a mandate to carry out a general system of protection in the new Parliament. Such a radical departure from our established fiscal system could not be made without an emphatic and unequivocal decision of the electorate.The Lord President of the Council asked at Blackpool whether the Liberals had made it clear at the last election that they would not have anything to do with tariffs. Certainly not, but only within the limits of our public pronouncements. I submit that what the country was considering then, and what the country approved of then was a careful, expert inquiry into the question as to whether a tariff applied here or there would enable the country to balance its trade. The electors never suspected for one moment, and here challenge denial from any quarter of the House, that full-blooded tariffs would be imposed as a result of the election. They never suspected that full-blooded tariffs were under responsible consideration. No one will deny that. What they thought was that there would be a little adjustment of tariffs here and a little adjustment there. [Interruption.] 378 How far we have travelled since the national appeal. The Prime Minister's admonition to look up the speeches by Ministers at the last election is more necessary than I thought. Listen to this:There will be no full-blooded tariffs introduced unless it is shown that they are necessary in the interests of British trade. There is nobody talking about full-blooded tariffs. What is being considered is whether tariffs will give us more advantage than disadvantage; whether a tariff applied here and there will enable us to balance our trade or not.That is not the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir II. Samuel) or Lord Snowden. It is a speech by the Prime Minister, the head of the Government, which was broadcast to the nation.
Nor was the Prime Minister's explanation of the attitude of my right hon. Friend and myself towards the Ottawa. Conference any fuller or more candid. Never at any stage at any time during the past year did we fail to indicate gm hostility to food taxes and to any atempts to interfere with the constitutional rights of this House to vary taxation from year to year. Nobody ever said to us, "Then you must leave the Government." Nobody ever even said, "We do not understand! This is rather embarrassing." Nobody ever said to us, and I say this with emphasis, because it is an under-statement and a direct negative of a passage in the Prime Minister's speech on Tuesday, "Failure at Ottawa would make the World Economic Conference impossible.' One thing, however, is clear, that a deadlock at Ottawa, regrettable as it would have been on every ground, though not so regrettable as the conclusion of these mischievous Agreements, would certainly not have made a National Government less necessary or less desirable. But why should we have contemplated failure at Ottawa? Every Member of the House must have heard or read the speeches of the Lord President of the Council in this House before the Conference began. At the opening session of the Ottawa Conference he said:The prime factor operating in the restoration of price levels is the recovery of confidence by traders and producers. This object can best be achieved by assuring traders of markets for goods, by the removal or limitation of existing harriers to trade, particularly arbitrary and erratic 379 quota systems and exchange restrictions, by finding a solution for the problem of Reparations and War Debts and by lessening the heavy burden of taxation and interest charges.If agreements had been reached on these lines there would have been no Liberal resignations from the Government. Resignations have taken place because, instead of freeing trade, additional tariffs have been put on and existing tariffs raised because for every tariff barrier that has been lowered, as my right hon. Friend said, two have been raised; because instead of getting rid of arbitrary and erratic quota systems we are being compelled to adopt them ourselves. I felt the force of the statement of the Foreign Secretary when he was interrupted by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) who referred to a speech made by Mr. Mackenzie King. "Oh," said the Foreign Secretary, "that has nothing to do with us; that has nothing to do with the British House of Commons." It is going to have a great deal to do with us in the future. We shall not be able to lower our taxes without the consent of Canada. Meanwhile it is quite interesting to read what is going on there. Mr. Mackenzie King said only on Monday last, the night before the Prime Minister made his speech, that the Ottawa Conference was "an utter failure." This is supposed to be a great Dominion policy, a great Imperial policy. The Secretary of State for War, when he returned from Canada, said that it had been taken out of party politics in Canada. The Liberal party is the second greatest party in Canada and it is winning by-elections all over the country and its leader, Mr. Mackenzie King says of the Ottawa Conference that itis an utter failure and would make immeasurably more difficult the future task of trade liberation.If I speak strongly, as I feel bound to speak, against the economic policy of the Government, I speak with conviction and not with malice. I can really rejoice in a sense on personal grounds with persistent Protectionists like the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery). I remember the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook making an almost pathetic speech from the Government Front Bench in 1924 just before the defeat of the Conservative Government and pro- 380 phesying, rather despairingly as it then seemed, victory for his ideal. They have persisted and carried through their policy. In modern politics every dog seems to get his day, sometimes even the most unexpected of us—and my congratulations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer are none the less sincere—indeed but for this consideration they could not be sincere—because I am convinced that his triumph will be short, and because my friends and I are free to shorten it. For 30 years, undismayed by constant defeats, the Protectionists have laboured for the triumph of the Chamber-lain ideal. Rash promises have been made and great expectations held out to the electors. Heavy will be the reckoning if they are disappointed. Even prophecies have been made. The Chancellor of the Exchequer asked my right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen not to make himself ridiculous by indulging in prophecy. It is much to be hoped that events, which are terribly disrespectful of persons, will not make even so great a man as the Chancellor of the Exchequer appear ridiculous when we come to look up his speeches on the question of Protection.
Now at last the victory has been won. Protectionists came here on Tuesday last to hear the cry of triumph. What they heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer was a cry of disillusionment. What nonsense it seemed to the Protectionists when the Labour Government was in office to talk of world depression and the need for world-wide co-operation. We seemed then only to need to have confidence in ourselves, to insulate ourselves—that was a popular phrase—by tariffs and quotas from the troubles of the world. Protection was the slogan, Protection was the Tory Shibboleth, by his soundness in the doctrines of Protection was every Tory candidate judged. The Cecils, the Stanleys and the Cavendishes, might bleat philosophically, but the vested interests would stand no nonsense and fastened it firmly upon them; and now the goal of a generation of Tory effort and sacrifice has been attained; now after six months of Protection in practice, with shrinking exports, vanishing re-exports, shipping stranded in our estuaries and unemployment figures soaring—now, the Lord President, 381The roseate hues of early dawn, How fast they fade away.—now the Lord President of the Council finds it necessary at Blackpool to discuss how in the event of its failure he is to dispose of the carcase. The Lord President of the Council may dispose of it as he will, but do not let him tie it round the neck of Parliament for five years.
Now it will strike every fair-minded Member of this House that there is no principle in these Agreements which could appeal to any Liberal Free Trader. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook may cherish the hope that oil this somewhat modest foundation a great policy of Empire tariffs may be constructed. The right hon. Gentleman does not like quotas, and, quite frankly, I find myself in cordial agreement with him on that matter. He and his friends would prefer duties, but to the Prime Minister arid his Socialist supporters the quota proposals must be particularly congenial. Import boards have for a long time been an important part of their policy, and it must be a refreshing experience for them to find themselves actually putting their policy into practice—and doing it in the most respectable company.
Now our meat trade is to be put into the shackles of an import board—ah! but this is not a party Government, it is a National Government, therefore we call it a quota committee—but the Prime Minister and his Socialist supporters may content themselves with the substance and accept a label more congenial to their colleagues. Control, restriction, regulation, these are the watchwords—tariffs first; now quotas—mutton, lamb, beef and bacon—and the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that this first scheme will provean object lesson which we may find extremely useful when we come to deal with the more complicated problems of the commodities which are sold in world markets."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th October, 1932; cols. 40–41, Vol. 269.]So we shall go on. So beef, mutton, and bacon are to provide the object lesson. Then we can pass on easily to iron and steel, textiles, coal. Now it is wholesale prices that are to be controlled, first raised and then lowered again if they get too high. But of course you cannot stop there. If the consumers see that 382 wholesale prices are being controlled in the interests of producers, the demand for the control of retail prices in the interests of consumers will become irresistible. So control will have to be extended to the retail trade. Why should the Prime Minister mind? Of course he is an enthusiastic supporter; he has always been doubtful about Free Trade; he has always seen that it is inconsistent with the doctrines of Socialism. He is not interested in private enterprise or in private property. But there is one graceful convention of this House which I regret to say, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has omitted to observe. It is customary when taking any action of an unprecedented character on lines which have been thought out and studied by some other authority to pay a tribute of acknowledgment to the source of inspiration, and particularly is that true when the source of the inspiration happens to be an old colleague of ours in this House of whose presence we are for the moment deprived. I therefore waited with expectation for the Chancellor, and was disappointed at his failure, to pay a tribute of generous acknowledgment to the work of Mr. E. F. Wise, who has so long contended for arrangements of this character. He may not appreciate the methods which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is employing. He may think that the scale of his operations is rather petty and his handling rather clumsy, but he may look forward with no small degree of anticipation and gratitude to the result of the object lesson which the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to afford him. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook said that this policy might carry us far in unanticipated directions. Yes, and this is one of those directions. In such a policy Protectionists and Socialists may sincerely and honestly combine but Liberals can have no part or lot.
We looked to the World Economic Conference and believed that it might well have been of decisive importance. Even now none of us would say, as the Prime Minister suggested and as the Foreign Secretary has repeated to-day, that the Ottawa Agreements are going to put an end to the World Economic Conference. On the contrary, we still hope that in spite of, not because of, the Ottawa Agreements, the dire needs and distresses of the world will compel the Governments 383 at that Conference to come to some helpful Agreement.
The Foreign Secretary remarked on the difficulty of a Free Trade country in bargaining with foreign countries. He said that we had great difficulty in getting foreign tariffs lowered. There are a great number of instances which could be quoted, of which the Anglo-German Treaty is one. But how many instances can be quoted of successful bargaining between Protectionist countries? Is it not plain that this principle of retaliation and bargaining has proved a failure, as the Balfour Committee, which for so long studied the whole range of British industry, found, and that the result of the operation of retaliation and bargaining has been to build tariff walls ever higher and higher? But at any rate this has nothing to do with the Ottawa Conference. This power of retaliation and bargaining was given in the Import Duties Act at the beginning of the year. It is not the Ottawa Conference, even in this respect, that is making the task of the Prime Minister and the Government easier at the Economic Conference or will bring foreign countries into negotiation with us.
Moreover, the Governments with whom they were negotiating at Ottawa do not mean the same thing as our own Government. They do not want to follow a policy of lowering tariff barriers. They declare that the Agreements concluded at Ottawa do not affect the principles and would not weaken the operation of their high protective systems. According to the newspapers, even those most favourable to the Government, like the "Times," they rejected absolutely at the Conference a request of the British Delegation to accept in the form of a resolution a plain statement of the broad economic aims of the British Government.
Our view, therefore, is that it is a tragedy that Britain will enter the World Conference, yoked in uneasy partnership with governments which have rejected our economic policy, and shackled by these Ottawa Agreements. Whenever the economic experts of the various countries have met, whether at the Economic Conference at Geneva, to which the Foreign Secretary referred, or as a Committee 384 of the League of Nations, like the Gold Delegation and the Committee of European Union, or as experts on reparations advising the governments, they have on every occasion and with growing insistence and emphasis warned the governments of Europe of the catastrophe which would result unless protectionist policy is reversed. What is the policy that is leading to world disaster? The very policy of nationalism for which my right hon. Friend who has just sat down claimed this so-called success. The monument to that policy is the condition of the world to-day. Yet governments keep on poking their ramrods of tariffs, quotas, and exchange restrictions into the delicate mechanism of international trade, until now the machine is jammed almost to a standstill. Take the ramrods out; let the machine run freely. On that policy Britain waxed great and rich and strong. If we are to have control let it be logical, disinterested, comprehensive, intelligent. "That is Socialism," you say. Yes, but that is the road you are travelling now. We say, "Free the energies of producers, tear down the barriers between countries." The psychology of economic armaments is the psychology of military armaments, the psychology of fear which leads to destruction. The path of prosperity now, as at every stage of the world history, is the path of enterprise, courage and freedom.
Nor are signs lacking that the Governments and the people of the countries have begun to pay heed to the voice of reason. The International Convention against import and export restrictions, the Oslo Convention, the draft Convention between Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg, the strong declarations against high tariffs of the Democratic candidate in the United States Presidential election, the successful campaign of the Liberal party in Canada, the breakdown of the quota system in France, Belgium and Germany—all these are hopeful portents. It was to this movement for freer trade that our Government should have been free to give the most vigorous leadership to the world. But now their hands are tied, and it is upon the goods of the very countries to which they will be appealing to lower their tariff barriers against our goods, and to take off their quota restrictions upon our exports—it is upon the goods of those 385 very countries that they will be imposing their quotas and against which they will be raising their tariff barriers.
As Lord Grey said, military armaments inevitably lead to war. Economic armaments are driving the world to ruin and impoverishment. What would have been said if before the Disarmament Conference the nations of the Empire had met and said, "Our armaments are not strong enough," if one country had said that she would build so many battleships, another so many tanks, and another so many submarines? Yet now on the eve of the World Economic Disarmament Conference, the countries of the Empire are increasing their economic armaments against those of foreign countries. Something, indeed, we hope may be achieved. Something must be achieved. All the support that we can give to the Government in its efforts to abolish restrictions on International trade at that Conference will be given gladly; but we cannot accept responsibility for this untimely surrender to the Tory policy of Empire tariffs, which blast the highest hopes of achievement at that Conference.
Not only have the Government bound their hands on the eve of that Conference, but they are endeavouring to fetter this Parliament and any future Parliament for a period of five years. Never before have countries in a commercial treaty undertaken to maintain duties for five years at a level higher than the Parliaments may consider necessary in their own interests, and which may prove injurious to the country. This is a new phase of the tariff mania, not only a departure in fiscal policy but, as my right hon. Friend said on Tuesday, it is a grave interference with the constitutional right and duty of this House to regulate from year to year the taxation of its constituents.
Before coming to the reply which the Foreign Secretary made to my right hon. Friend the former Home Secretary, I would like to put this question to whatever Minister is to reply on this Debate. Why should these Agreements be binding for five years? I am told—the information has reached me since I left the Government—that only one of the Dominions was at all anxious for this long-term Agreement, and that it was the British delegation which was most insistent in demanding it. Other Dominions felt the constitutional diffi- 386 culty and urged strong economic arguments against it. The Foreign Secretary talks as if we were contesting the right of Governments to conclude long-term agreements at all. He asks: "What would be the use of concluding long-term agreements if in fact they could be cancelled at a very few months notice? They would be hardly worth the trouble of concluding them." The answer is clear. The truth is shown by what has happened in practice in the case of the agreements that we have concluded. If there is a difference of opinion about some small matter of policy, some particular interest which is affected, Governments are very loth to denounce a treaty. They do not denounce a treaty for some trivial cause because they would have to denounce it as a whole; and therefore they might lose the great advantage which it brings to great interests other than a particular one which may be injuriously affected. But what is contemplated in this case is something quite different from anything that has been contemplated in the case of any other commercial treaty which has been concluded by any Government of this country. A majority may be returned to this House quite soon with objections in principle to the whole structure and principle of the Ottawa Agreements, and may wish to denounce them on those grounds. That is the reason why we attach importance to this question, because of the formidable opposition which exists on the subject of the fundamental principles of this Agreement, not only in this country but in every country of the Empire.
Then the Foreign Secretary uses what might be called the apple-tree argument of the Prime Minister—that if you are going to give a preference and encourage men to migrate and grow apple trees, you must give them a period of years to reap the result of their work. But five years is much too short for that purpose. What is the economic counter argument? It is very formidable and was hinted at strongly by my right hon. Friend who has just sat down. In the course of five years or even three years there may be immense changes in economic conditions. Droughts, great disasters, the appreciation or the depreciation of the currency of any one of the Empire countries, may entirely upset the whole balance of the agreements. Yet I am informed that it was the British Government, knowing as 387 the delegation did the feeling of the Cabinet at home on this question, who most strongly urged that these grave objections, economic as well as constitutional, should be over-ridden. I can hardly believe it is so. I give the Government an opportunity of explaining or verifying the fact.
Now what is the reply to our objections on constitutional grounds to the duration of these Agreements? The best answer that the Prime Minister could give on Tuesday was to refer us to the Anglo-German Treaty, and in particular to the Article in which it is laid down that there shall be no discrimination against German subjects in the matter of taxation in this country. The constitutional principles for which we at any rate are contending, are broad and flexible and cannot be interpreted in any narrow, logic-chopping or straw-splitting spirit. We are not concerned, and our predecessors in this House have not been concerned, to defend the right of Parliament to discriminate in taxation against foreign citizens in this country. We are concerned to defend the rights of Parliament to control the taxation of the people we represent. The Prime Minister told us that he had been consulting the Law Officers of the Crown. I hope the country will take note that the only defence which the Prime Minister, helped by the Law Officers of the Crown and all their highly skilled and experienced staffs can make of this constitutional departure is to point to the Agreement with Germany not to subject their citizens to discrimination in taxation. But the researches of the Prime Minister cannot have carried him as far as the Protocol to the Treaty where he would have found that the principle of fiscal freedom for which we are contending is safeguarded in the following terms:While maintaining their rights to take appropriate measures to preserve their own industries, they undertake to abstain from using their respective customs tariffs or any other charges as a means of discriminating against the trade of the other country.The Lord President of the Council cited in his speech at Blackpool against our contentions the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of 1911. The Government have appealed to the precedent of that treaty. Let them observe it.
388 As a result of the exchange of opinions which took place between my right hon. Friend the late Home Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook, it was clearly proved to the satisfaction of the Committee that, in fact, that treaty contained provision for regaining freedom in matters of taxation at short notice. My researches have revealed a further point. When that treaty was challenged in this House of Commons the spokesman of the Government of the day indicated clearly that the Government recognised it as a duty which rested upon them to preserve the fiscal freedom of this House of Commons and gave an assurance that they had in fact done so. That spokesman was the then Under-Secretary of the Department over which the Foreign Secretary now presides. He said—and he spoke for a Free Trade Government with a great majority—"Great care has been taken to preserve fiscal freedom." Thus we find that the two battering-rams which the Prime Minister and the Lord President of the Council brought up to demolish our case, have been turned by further study and research into additional buttresses.
Now we come to the Foreign Secretary. He in his speech cleverly evaded the issue. Let me state in my right hon. Friend's own terms, the proposition which my right hon. Friend the late Home Secretary put before the Committee on Tuesday:It is the constitutional objection to these five-year Agreements; to agreements imposing new taxes, which, by mutual arrangements with each Dominion, are not to be lowered for a period of five years.Not one precedent in the whole of that brilliant piece of advocacy to which we listened at the beginning of to-day's Debate was cited by the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary for action of this character. My right hon. Friend the late Home Secretary went on to say-and this is not the same point, but an additional point:Other of the taxes may be lowered within the five years it the assent of the various Dominion Governments has been obtained."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th October, 1932; col. 65, Vol. 269.]With all his knowledge, his power of advocacy, with all his expert advisers who can search through the archives of the Foreign Office and of the Board of Trade, not one precedent can the right hon. Gentleman find for that departure. He 389 never even ventured to mention the point. The Prime Minister says that he is one of those people who is prepared to change things to-morrow—it is always to-morrow that the Prime Minister is prepared to change things—if in the course of time it has been proved that certain of our most cherished constitutional principles have become out of date. But far from this particular principle having become out of date it seems to me to have acquired a new and almost startling value, a practical value, in the present situation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced yesterday that nothing in these Agreements can be altered. So we are to sit day after day, and week after week, receiving deputations, answering correspondence by the pile, discussing the Bill, Clause by Clause and line by line, but not one word or comma can be altered. Are we to accept the view that Parliament has surrendered its taxing power into the hands of its seven delegates to Ottawa with no independent inquiry into alleged grievances, no consultation with the industries or individuals affected, no opportunity for them to put their case, and their representatives in this House of Commons shackled and muzzled? Are we to be told that neither this House nor its successor is to recover its taxing power for five years? If this House will stand it, the people will not.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer talks of the bonds of Empire wearing thin. These Agreements are no bonds of Empire. They are apples of discord scattered between Governments and parties in every Dominion in the Empire. The five-year duration of these Agreements has been repudiated by the Labour and Liberal parties here who have declared that they will not be found by them. It has been repudiated by the official Opposition in Australia who have declared that they will not be bound by them. It has been roundly condemned by the Liberal and Labour parties in the Dominion of Canada. Have the Government considered before they discard a constitutional precedent, which, they think, is of only academic interest, the practical possibilities? Have they considered the possibility, which, I suggest, prudent statesmanship should not entirely ignore, that there may be in the next Parliament a majority of Members returned with a mandate from the electors to remove food taxes? Does anyone suppose for a 390 moment that those Members are going to turn round to their constituents and say, "We are very sorry but we cannot carry out your mandate—not at any rate until we have the permission of the Dominions"? This Parliament cannot bind that Parliament but we can put it in the false position of having to choose between a pusillanimous refusal to carry out its mandate and the denunciation of these Agreements before the period at which they are due to expire, which may well put a greater strain on Imperial unity than it has had to endure since the days of the "Boston Tea Party."
But the responsibility will not belong to that Parliament. The responsibility will rest upon this House of Commons, upon this Government and, above all, upon the Prime Minister as Leader of this House of Commons, for the infringement of a vital constitutional principle. Nothing could be less in the spirit of a National Government, of a National Parliament than this tricky attempt to prevent the next Parliament reversing the policy of this one, an attempt which has already been condemned by all parties except the Government party here and in Canada, and repudiated by the Labour party in Australia. Surely there cannot be any difficulty in getting the Governments of the Empire, in view of this grave constitutional development in three great countries of the Empire, Britain, Canada, Australia—surely there cannot be any difficulty in getting the Dominions to agree to amend the Agreements in this respect and to strike out of them this startling and mischievous innovation. It is a source of danger which in the interests not only of this country but of all the countries of the Empire should immediately be removed.
On this occasion I have felt bound to confine my speech to those large questions of principle which have been raised in the course of the Debate. There are many other questions of immense importance which we shall have opportunities of raising on subsequent days. The position of agriculture is a preoccupation not merely of the Government but of all Members in every part of the Committee. I regret that for the reasons so eloquently stated yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) and for other reasons which we shall discuss on other occasions I can see little hope for agriculture in these Agree- 391 ments. Nor can I close without uttering an emphatic protest against the denunciation of the Russian Trade Agreement. Here again we hope to discuss that question fully on some future occasion, but we must forthwith condemn the recklessness with which the employment of 30,000 men has been imperilled by the action of the Government. We deplore the loss of work and the increase of distress among workers in the engineering trade, in the herring fishing industry and in the other exporting trades of this country and the far-reaching consequences which it is likely to have on political and economic developments in Russia, in Germany and throughout Europe.
In conclusion let me say, that in so far as the policy of the Government is to proceed in future on lines of Protection and Empire tariffs we are bound to oppose them. But we shall stand by the responsibilities which we assumed in joining the Government and have incurred since we joined it. True it is that differences of opinion which must inevitably develop from time to time and which have occurred in the past will be discussed in the open and on the Floor of the House, instead of in secrecy in the Cabinet. Why should the public interest suffer from such discussions, conducted on both sides with a due sense of responsibility to the nation and of the gravity of the times? Why should the Government suffer? I cannot believe that they will shrink from criticism. A few months ago the Ministry was described as a Ministry of nearly all the talents. Since then it may have lost some Members but it has received from that group which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with a characteristically defective sense of political values, is fond of describing as "the main body of the Liberal party," a notable infusion of fresh blood and perhaps it may now be called, "the Ministry of all the talents." I am sure they will receive our criticism with the composure which is derived from the knowledge of a secure majority in the House of Commons and for my part I cannot conceive of a Government, not even one presided over by the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) or the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) to whom I would not wish well in facing the grave crisis with which this country and the world are confronted at the present time. 392 No one could have listened unmoved to the appeal of the Foreign Secretary this afternoon for support for the Government on Ireland, on India. We must give them all the support we can on those questions, wholeheartedly and in no niggardly spirit. It is in that spirit that we shall support it and it is in that spirit that we shall criticize—the spirit of the Prime Minister's appeal of two or three years ago to the House of Commons to form itself into a Council of State; the spirit of loyalty to the conception which animated our constituents at the last General Election when they returned so large a majority in support of a national effort which was to transcend party differences; the spirit of service to the people and of confidence in the destiny of the nation.
§ Major MILNER
While, I am sure, the Committee listened with great pleasure to the eloquent and the delightful speech of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair), I am afraid that we cannot allow him to get away from his responsibility and that of his colleagues, however specious the pleas that they have made. Nor can we allow the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues to escape responsibility for the disasters which some of us think will follow the Ottawa Agreements, merely because of their belated resignations. It must be remembered that the attitude of the Dominions was quite clearly known from the documents relating to the 1930 Conference. It must have been perfectly clear to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and his colleagues in the Cabinet, from the inquiries and investigations which must of necessity been made by the Government when they were considering the mandate which they were giving to their representatives at Ottawa, what this attitude was. The truth is that from the moment a general tariff was adopted, with this 10 per cent. preference, bearing in mind the very definite statement of the Dominions Secretary last December in reference to the wheat quota, it must have been clear to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and his friends that the Ottawa issue was decided.
I would point out in this connection that neither the late Home Secretary, 393 nor the right hon. Gentleman, took any exception to the Wheat Quota Bill. In fact, I believe the right hon. Gentleman's name backed that Bill, and, therefore, by remaining in the Cabinet last February the right, hon. Gentleman and his friends allowed the plans for Ottawa to go forward from the whole Cabinet, and they must accept responsibility along with the rest of the Cabinet for any disasters which accrue therefrom.
I desire to protest against the form in which the schedules of the Agreement is presented to the Committee. They appear to me to be designed to make comprehension as difficult as possible to Members of this Committee. It is almost impossible, in the form in which these schedules are placed before us, to assess the precise meaning or the results of the tariff adjustments proposed. I would, therefore, ask the Government whether they would be willing to publish, either by way of a White Paper or otherwise, these schedules in a form which would give precise details of the existing tariffs in the Dominions and elsewhere, and the future tariffs, assuming that the proposals put before us in this Committee are carried, and, further, whether they would also give particulars of the special restriction and anti-dumping duties, other than tariffs, levied against British products. Article 17 of the Canadian Agreement consists of an undertaking by the Canadian Government that all existing surcharges on imports from the United Kingdom shall be completely abolished, so soon as the finances of Canada will allow. It also includes a further undertaking to give sympathetic consideration to the possibility of reducing, and ultimately abolishing, the exchange dumping duty, in so far as it applies to the United Kingdom. I would ask the Government to be good enough to give particulars of these surcharges and the exchange dumping duties referred to.
I would like to deal for a moment with a remarkable statement which we had from the Chancellor of the Exchequer the day before yesterday. He spent almost half the time of his speech in dealing with what he termed the "ties of Empire," and he expressed the view, as I understood, that these ties were fragile and delicate, and that they required, contrary to public opinion, 394 material bonds. He implied that if we wished to preserve the shreds of Empire that could only be done by adopting a cash nexus of some kind, and thereby binding the Dominions and the Mother Country by financial bargains. We have had references by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) to the process of "hard bargaining" which went on at Ottawa. The Prime Minister referred more than once to the "stiff fight" which had to be put up by our representatives there. How can we unite all the various component parts of the British Empire, by hard bargaining or stiff fighting, such as apparently took place at Ottawa? Moreover these Agreements contemplate further negotiations, further haggling, huckstering, further hard bargains, and stiff fights year by year. They are apparently subject, some of them, to review, and it is clear that the process which has taken place at Ottawa, and which is more likely to loosen the ties of Empire than strengthen them, is to be fought out year by year.
There is another statement I would make to the Committee. If one looks at Article 8 of the Canadian Agreement one sees there that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will invite the Governments of the non-self-governing Colonies and Protectorates to accord to Canada any preferences which may, for the time being, be accorded to any other part of the British Empire, and will invite these non-self-governing Colonies to accord to Canada new or additional preferences on commodities and at the rates shown thereunder. The word used is "invite." We have been told by the Secretary of State for the Colonies that he has been in communication with these Colonies already. We know that the Government of the United Kingdom propose to direct these Colonies to give the preferences to which I refer. That will mean that this Agreement will commit those non-self-governing Colonies and Protectorates to fresh taxation. In many of them to-day tariffs are the principal source of revenue, and if these tariffs are reduced by reason of preferences given to Canada, Australia or New Zealand, the taxation will have to be made up by the inhabitants of those non-self-governing Colonies. The result is that the Ottawa Agreement commits a population of something like 60,000,000 to very sub- 395 stantial fresh taxation. It will, presumably, have to be paid by the natives of these non-self-governing Colonies. We see duties of 2d. on eggs, and 15 per cent. on fruit which are to be paid by the natives of our Colonies. I submit that, taking all in all, the steps in the Ottawa Agreement may be very little less serious to the Empire than the steps taken to tax American colonists something over 100 years ago. We know the result of those taxes. We lost what is now the United States of America by attempting to put a tax on them. It seems to me not to be entirely outside the bounds of possibility that something of the same sort may take place with regard to some of those non-self-governing Colonies which we in this Agreement are proposing to see substantially taxed.
There is one other feature to which reference has been made by the late Secretary of State for Scotland. It is with regard to the denunciation of the Agreement with Russia. I am at a loss to know, and I shall be glad if some representative of the Government will tell us, why it is necessary to denounce that Agreement. It might conceivably have been necessary to revise it. The Agreement is a purely temporary one, and was drawn up having in mind the necessity for a more formal Agreement at a later date. Indeed, negotiations for a more formal Agreement are envisaged in the document itself. It is expressly stated that the temporary Agreement shall remain in force until the coming into force of an Agreement between the United Kingdom and the Soviet Republic. If the Government desired modification it was only necessary to initiate negotiations.
The result of the denunciation is to create uncertainty and great insecurity. Indeed, I understand that denunciation destroys the only legal basis which the Soviet Trade Delegation has for remaining in this country. In my own constituency, where there are large engineering firms, the denunciation is a matter of serious moment to the employers and men in these industries. In one firm, so they tell me, negotiations are already in progress to the end of obtaining orders for something like half-a-million pounds worth of engineering goods. Presumably, unless the Govern- 396 ment include in their negotiations some provision with regard to such matters these orders, giving employment to many hundreds of men, must go by the board. A very remarkable thing is, as I understand, that this denunciation of the Russian Agreement has been carried out at the instigation of Mr. Bennett, the Canadian Prime Minister. But apparently what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander, because in the "Daily Telegraph" of 17th September we learn thatA huge direct barter deal has been arranged by a Canadian firm with Soviet Russia. The aluminium company of Canada will exchange £250,000 worth of aluminium wire for oil of an equivalent value.What makes the situation even more piquant is that the deal was actually concluded while the Conference was in session at Ottawa, and hat, as the "Manchester Guardian" on 20th September said:It now emerges that the Bennett Government agreed to the present interchange of products with Russia during the Conference, at the very time when the Canadian desire for a British embargo against Russian timber and wheat was at its zenith.We cannot but commend Mr. Bennett for his good sense in encouraging trade with the Soviet when it gives work to the Canadian unemployed, but we must marvel at his attitude in insisting upon the denunciation of this Agreement, which, so long as it exists, gives work to British unemployed. I would suggest that action of that kind, and indeed the whole policy set out in these Agreements, is likely to cause the deepest possible feeling, not only in the non-self-governing Colonies, but also in Russia and in every other foreign country. The terms of the Agreements provide that in no fewer than 83 cases the preference for which credit is taken as being given to this country has been given by increasing the tariffs on goods entering Canada against foreign countries. How is that going to lead to freer trade or to a successful World Economic Conference? The increases to our own duties in this country obviously operate against all the world with the exception of the Dominions, whereas the preferences only benefit the three or four Dominions concerned. Where in these Agreements, therefore, is there any hope of a reduction of tariffs or any hope of 397 the freer trade which was promised, in particular by the Lord President of the Council a few days before he proceeded to Ottawa?
I suggest that these Agreements have hindered, not helped, world trade, that they have tied our hands, that they have put a burden on the poorest of the poor, that they have complicated our relations with foreign Powers, and that they will lead to increased tariffs against this country, as indeed they have already done if the proposals of the Danish Government are carried into effect. It is not a. mere question of tariffs or Free Trade. We on this side say,A plague o' both your houses.We say that by these Agreements you have widened and extended the system of competition to which we object, that just when, on all hands, it has been agreed that planned co-operation, rational and international, is the great need of the hour, it is then that you have taken upon yourselves to bring to a head and presumably to carry into effect these Agreements. It is on that general ground and principle that we on this side oppose the Resolution.
§ Viscount KNEBWORTH
As I listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for Scotland, who is a great champion, incidentally, of Scottish economic nationalism, I felt that I was reading through a Debate which might have been taking place before the War. My whole being re-acted to his splendid oratory, but my whole sense of reason failed to appreciate the force of his arguments. It seems to me that this tariff question, in so far as it calls forth the arguments of two or three hundred years, bears very little upon our present condition. I am, frankly, not one of those who look upon these Ottawa Agreements as the final realisation of the policy inaugurated many years ago by the Conservative party. Times have enormously changed, and the circumstances in which we find ourselves to-day are not those of before the War and not even those of directly after the War. We were faced, before the Ottawa Conference, and we are still faced to-day, with the complete collapse of world trade, and what more natural than that under these circumstances we should make some attempt to rebuild the broken trade of the world, and that we should 398 start to make that attempt by negotiating trade agreements within our own Empire, with those Dominions inhabited by people who are of our own flesh and blood?
Much play has been made of the old tariff and Free Trade argument. The senior Member for Dundee (Mr. Dingle Foot), in a speech yesterday—and I should hate to interfere in what those who listened to that speech will appreciate was largely a domestic quarrel between the two hon. Members for Dundee—speaking on tariffs as a cure for unemployment, said:We do not suggest that the recent increase in unemployment has been caused by tariffs. We do say that it completely disposes of the claim that tariffs are a cure for unemployment."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 19th October, 1932; col. 219, Vol. 269.]We who advocated tariffs when they were introduced believed, and still believe, that they would be a cure for unemployment. Hon. Members below the Gangway on this side, when tariffs were introduced, believed, and still believe, that they would result in the raising of prices. We do not suggest that the continued fall in prices has been due to tariffs, but we have as much right to say, as the senior Member for Dundee has to say the contrary, that the fact that prices have fallen disproves completely the claim that tariffs cause prices to rise. In point of fact, history has shown that the old Free Trade and Protectionist arguments have both been set at nought. The facts of the case have shown things to turn out otherwise, and the reasons why prices have not risen as the result of tariffs are equally applicable to the fact that unemployment has not so far been cured. The whole situation, judged in the light of the old Protectionist and Free Trade arguments, has fallen to the ground, and all that I would ask leave to do this evening is to consider one or two of the objections which have been raised to the Ottawa Agreements.
I do not set very great store by the objection that these Agreements are a violation of constitutional practice. It is certainly not the practice as a rule in commerce to enter into contracts binding for five years, but it is not without parallel, and the issue is not, surely, one of whether these Agreements are within the practice of the constitution, but whether they are in the long run going 399 to do what it is claimed they are going to do, namely, to revive trade. The right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for Scotland, who spoke just now, said that this House might stand for these Agreements, but that the people would not. The people will stand for these Agreements, provided they do what is claimed for them, provided they are a first step towards the restoration of trade, not only in the Empire, but in the world. That is the light and the only light in which the value of these commercial treaties can be judged. If they are successful and unconstitutional, the people of this country, as well as of this House, will be prepared to give a little rope to the constitution.
The senior Member for Dundee said he did not object to bargaining within the Empire. His objection to these Treaties was not that they were a bargain, but that they were a bad bargain, and the reasons which he gave for their being a bad bargain were two. In the first place, he objected that in these Treaties nothing had been done for the jute industry, with which he was concerned in Dundee. That objection was very forcibly dealt with by his fellow Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh), and I do not propose further to congratulate the senior Member on his very proper Protectionist inclinations; but his second reason for saying that these commercial treaties were bad bargains was that the Protectionist Press had pointed out that for 40 per cent. of the commodities involved there would be a reduction in duties and that a simple mathematical calculation showed that for the other 60 per cent. there would be no reduction. He advanced that as an argument to show that these were bad bargains.
If I were to say that 5 per cent. of the men in the Liberal party were brilliantly able men, a simple mathematical calculation would suggest that 95 per cent. of them were not brilliant men, but it would not follow that they were all foods. Even if it did follow that they were all fools, the staunchest Liberal would surely prefer to have 5 per cent. of the members of his party brilliant men than none at all; and, similarly, those 60 per cent, of the commodities protected by these Treaties may not be subject to a lower duty. Let us at least be 400 thankful that so large a proportion as 40 per cent. are subject to lower duties.
Again, it has been claimed by a Liberal spokesman in this Debate that the Government are sacrificing the interests of the United Kingdom to the interests of the Dominions. That was a claim put forward by the senior Member for Dundee, but earlier in the Debate the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) had made the point that throughout our Colonial Empire the inhabitants were beginning to be educated, to be alert, to be aware of their position, and how terrible it would be, he said, if these people were to imagine that the Government which ruled over them was taxing them disadvantageously, as far as they were concerned, to the advantage of that Government. The Liberal party cannot have it both ways. Either these bargains are to the advantage of the United Kingdom and, on the basis of Liberal arguments, to the disadvantage of the Dominions, or they are an advantage to both, but they cannot consistently claim that the Agreements are sacrificing the United Kingdom to the Colonies and at the same time claim that there is a grave risk of the inhabitants of the Colonies resenting these Agreements as being used against their interests.
A further point made by the right hon. Gentleman who was recently the Secretary of State for Scotland was that Mr. Mackenzie King had condemned these Ottawa Agreements as a grotesque failure. Mr. Mackenzie King is a Canadian, and only the day before another Member of that same Liberal party claimed that the interests of the United Kingdom had been sacrificed to those of Canada. Which of these two views is correct? I have my own opinion, and I should be delighted if the Liberal party had its own opinion too, but the Liberal party appears to have two opinions. Indeed, the position of the Liberal party at this moment can only be compared to a certain celebrated character in the well known opera called "The Pirates of Penzance," by Gilbert and Sullivan. Hon. Members will remember that the boy Frederic was apprenticed by mistake to a pirate rather than to a pilot. On his 21st birthday the boy Frederic leaves the pirate gang, and one can picture the right hon. Gentle- 401 man the Member for Darwen using these very words to the Government Front Bench:But this afternoon my obligation ceases. Individually, I love you all with affection unspeakable, but, collectively, I look upon you with a disgust that amounts absolute detestation. Oh! pity me, my beloved friends, for such is my sense of duty that, once out of my indentures, I shall feel myself bound to devote myself heart and soul to your extermination.Then, with great courtesy, the Prime Minister replies:Well, Frederic, if you conscientiously feel that it is your duty to destroy us, we cannot blame you for acting on this convication. Always act in accordance with the dictates of your conscience, my boy, and face the consequences.Hon. Members will no doubt remember that the unfortunate incidence of leap year compelled Frederic to return to the pirate ship, whereas we visualise for the right hon. Gentleman and his friends a life of perpetually untarnished, if somewhat isolated, purity.
Other objections have been advanced against this policy from the other side of the Committee based, with a rhetoric Which I wish I could command, upon the suffering, the distress, and very nearly the destitution of a great many people in the country to-day. We have listened to many eloquent speeches upon the distressing conditions in our industrial towns, if I were an orator, I could describe things which I have seen in the last fortnight which would move the Committee just as much as anything that hon. Members on the opposite benches may say but to paint a lurid, miserable picture of suffering and destitution is not a contribution of any value to a Debate of this kind. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last for the Opposition on the first day of this Debate, wound up his speech by painting this picture and saying that the Ottawa Agreements would be the last straw to break the hacks of the people of this country. I wonder what is at the back of the mind of a man who talks like that. Does he sincerely imagine that the Government of this or any other country introduces legislation with the idea of further impoverishing the people? A contribution of that kind to the Debate is not helpful.
The whole object and conception of the Ottawa Agreements and of the trade contracts which we are now discussing, is the restoration of world trade, the 402 improvement of world trade, and the improvement of the conditions of the people. Hon. Members opposite, say that we must he idiots if we think the Ottawa Agreements will have that effect. Hon. Members would be right in producing their arguments to show that we are idiots, but merely to paint a ghastly picture of poverty and destitution and give that as their reason for opposing the Agreements is a fantastic and useless form of argument here or anywhere else. I sincerely believe, and I only speak because I sincerely believe, that the Government have made an attempt in a world of shattered commerce and trade, in the only way open to them, to begin to rebuild that trade and commerce and to set on its feet again the means by which every citizen in this country in the long run must exist.
§ Mr. DICKIE
No one knows better than we Liberals that, however stimulating and entertaining it is to differ from one's friends in private, it is never pleasant to have to disagree with them in public, but I have to rise, after the ex-Secretary of State for Scotland, to give my general support to the proposals of the Government. I have been a Free Trader all my life. I learned my economics at the feet of the great Liberals of the past, like Lord Oxford, Lord Grey of Fallodon, Lord Robson, Mr. Russell Rea and the present President of the Board of Trade. I was an internationalist, and I am a free Trader still. I believe that the greatest evil from which the world is suffering to-day is the growth of that spirit of economic nationalism which is so much deplored by the ex-Secretary of State for Scotland, which is so much deplored by all of us, and which I deplore as much as any of the opponents of these proposals. It is a spirit which has found its expression in tariffs, quotas, licences, restrictions and prohibitions, all of which are to-day choking the channels of trade the world over.
I am one of those who believe that we shall never see any improvement in world trade, even with the Economic Conference which is to meet in December, until the, nations of the world recognise their inter-dependability one upon the other, and realise that when two individuals of different nations trade with each other, the transaction is not one- 403 sided but for the benefit of both individuals and therefore of both nations, and should be carried through in conditions which are fair to both participants in the transaction. I believe further that, anything that interferes with the natural flow of trade, whether it be tariffs, subsidies, bounties, exchange restrictions, licences or quotas, are a hindrance to commerce and a drag on the wheels of world progress. I believe that the greatest opportunity Europe has had since the Congress of Vienna for bringing down all these barriers was lost at Versailles. The result has been in the post-War period a rapid and unchecked growth of economic nationalism which students of economic history must deplore. But it is not enough to deplore it; it is there. It is not only there, but it is threatening our very existence as a nation, and it is our bound-in duty in the interests of our own people to recognise the stark naked fact of its existence and to see what steps can be taken to counteract its civil effects on our trade and commerce and the standard of life of our people.
I want to say quite frankly that I believe that with this development it is impossible any longer for this little country to exist as a Free Trade nation in a world of Protectionists. There is not the slightest question, as the ex-Secretary of State pointed out, that under Free Trade this country prospered amazingly. It is a matter of speculation whether, had we modified our fiscal system thirty years ago, we should have prospered to greater extent. It is a matter of speculation which no one can answer with mathematical certainty, but it is a matter of historic fact that under Free Trade the people of this country enjoyed a prolonged period of a higher standard of life than any of the protected countries of Europe, and that when the War came, this nation alone of all the belligerents who went through the War from beginning to end was able to foot the bill and to lend large sums of money to its Allies. That is unquestioned, and I shall always believe that in a normal world for us in our insular position, living on our exports, unable to feed more than one-half of the inhabitants of these islands, compelled to draw supplies of food and raw material from the ends of the world, a Free Trade system is best. But we are 404 not living in a normal world. It is a world in which the economics of international trade have been vitiated by War debts and reparations, and by the licences, quotas and so on to which I have referred.
In these circumstances, we must ask ourselves whether a system which has served us so well in days gone by is suited to the new conditions. We live by our exports. In the halcyon days of Free Trade, for every £100 of our trade, from £44 to £46 was exports; from E54 to £56 was imports. The difference was made up by our invisible exports. Last year, out of every £100, only £34 was exports and £66 was imports. Yet one of the arguments of the unrepentant Free Trader, no matter how the figures may fluctuate, is that the ratio between the two remains constant. Lord Snowden, speaking in the Debate on the Import Duties Act in February, made that point, and said that if there were an increasing adverse balance, the ratio between exports and imports remained the same, whatever the figures might be. As a matter of fact, from 1929 to 1931 the imports declined by 23.5, and exports by no less than 49 per cent. Here is something that goes right to the root of the whole of our troubles. When we had to meet a bill of only 10 per cent. to 12 per cent., our invisible exports could not only do it, but they left a handsome balance for reinvestment oversea. When the bill rose to something like 32 per cent., the invisible exports became inadequate, with the result that we had an adverse trade balance.
Some of my Liberal friends tell me that there is no such thing as a trade balance. They tell me that it is a myth and that automatically every day the import and exports must of necessity balance. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen has said, however, that the adverse balance was there and could not be ignored. The deficiency has to be met somehow, and hitherto we have met it from capital. In these days, the movement of large blocks of capital is not by any means a difficult matter, as the hon. Member for Finsbury (Sir G. Gillett) pointed out in this Debate. But those movements, when they are carried out in the circumstances of to-day, are bound in the end inevitably to deflate our national capital reserves. As was pointed out from thousands of platforms during 405 the General Election, this situation can be corrected by a restriction of our imports or an extension of our exports, or by a combination of both. It will help a little by restricting the imports of manufactured and semi-manufactured articles, particularly by protecting the home products from dumping. When I speak of (lumping, I am content to take the definition given by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) which was quoted by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury in the Debate on the Import Duties Act in November last year. It is going on now, even under tariffs, in the iron and steel industry particularly, and that is a situation we shall have to deal with in the near future. But that cannot be a big thing. Eighty per cent. of our imports are food for our people or raw material for our industries, and any deliberate restriction of those imports can have only one effect, to depress the standard of life of our people.
Therefore, we must turn in some other direction for the solution. At Ottawa the Lord President of the Council pointed out that 70 per cent. of our trade was done with foreign countries and 30 per cent. with the Empire. The question we have to ask ourselves is, "Can we expand either of those, or can we expand both of them?" I am one of those who believe we can expand both. I am also one who believes that the greatest hope lies within the Empire. The British market is the most valuable market to the foreign trader in the whole civilised world. Till recently he has had absolutely, or practically, free entry to that market. Has he reciprocated? On the contrary, all the evidence goes to show that foreign producers use the money or credits from the sale of their produce in our markets to purchase from other countries manufactured and semi-manufactured goods which we could just as easily have supplied.
During the last few years I have stood on the banks of the River Tyne and watched vessels coming into the river loaded with thousands and thousands of tons of Scandinavian produce. I have watched them loading and discharging week after week—discharging the produce of Scandinavia into the most valuable market in the world. Then I have lifted my eyes and, not far away, I have seen, tied at the buoys, row upon 406 row of them, our own coal-carrying vessels—idle, eating their heads off, earning nothing, with their crews walking the street and on the dole. Our pits are working short time and grass is growing in our shipyards. Why? Because the Scandinavian companies, although they have here the most valuable market in the world, and although they sell to us five to six times more than they buy from us, prefer to get their coal from the Poles rather than buy it in the market where they make their profits. We have it on the authority of the ex-Secretary for Mines that in the days before the War no less than 98 per cent. of the coal imported into Scandinavia came from Great Britain, whereas to-day it is only 35 per cent. I want to know whether this state of things can be rectified. I say it can be, but only if we can show the foreign supplier not only that it is just and equitable that he should buy in the markets where he makes his profit, but that it is good business for him to do so, and we cannot do that unless we have a bargaining weapon when we are entering into negotiations.
The senior Member for Dundee (Mr. Dingle Foot) and the ex-Secretary of State for Scotland both said that if these Agreements were signed our hands would be tied if we want to make agreements with countries such as Denmark or the Argentine. It seems to me that those observations reveal that, in so far as the mining industry is concerned, those gentlemen have not grasped the elementary facts of the existing situation. The plain fact is that at tile present time we have both hands tied behind our backs in regard to the coal trade. The Ottawa Agreements, with the duties already operative, release one hand and put into it a bargaining weapon. They give the Government power to enter into reciprocal trade agreements with these or any other foreign countries, and I sincerely hope they will exercise those powers effectively and speedily, and thus give a very much needed impetus to this section of the export trade. The shipments of coal from the Tyne declined by over 3,650,000 tons in the first nine months of 1932 compared with the same period of 1930, and by over a million tons in the same period of 1932 compared with 1931. The 1931 decrease is bad enough, as I showed during the course of the mining Debate. The decline is still going on, and there is a 407 further 10 per cent. drop. If this sort of thing continues there is nothing but ruin staring us in the face in the exporting districts.
§ Mr. DICKIE
And I sincerely hope we shall use them. As regards the whole of the North-East Coast ports, the position is little better. In the nine months up to September, 1932, compared with September, 1930, there was a decline of no less than 4,547,000 tons, 18.44 per cent. I want the House to realise that that 4,547,000 tons represents employment for no less than 22,500 miners. That is why I attach so much importance to this question. One other point I would like to make, with the permission of the Chairman and the indulgence of the Committee, and that is that tariff agreements, the Ottawa Agreements, are not enough so far as the mining industry is concerned. We say that that industry must be freed from the shackles of the minimum price and the quota, and that coal-owners and exporters must have a free hand to meet competition in the markets of the world. I ask the Government very seriously to give immediate consideration to this point and to establish a free market in coal either with or without the central selling agencies about which we have heard so much. If this is done I am sure that in conjunction with the Agreements and the tariffs the industry will not only be free but armed, and I have not the slightest doubt that we shall see a rapid expansion in the export of coal.
To-day the Government are having serious trouble in the county of Durham in connection with what is known as the means test. I say to them that here, ready to their hands, is one means of relieving the situation. It is a far, far better way to provide employment than to increase the dole, far better also than putting into operation relief works or similar schemes. Let them help to restore prosperity to the coal trade, because coal is the foundation of all our industry in the county of Durham and on the North-East Coast. If the coal industry is prosperous, then prosperity will percolate right through to every other industry and to every section of the com- 408 munity, and the Government will find they have gone a long way towards providing a solution of the problem with which they are confronted.
With regard to the Dominions and the Colonies, I regard the position as being different. They are bound to us already by ties of blood and sentiment, speaking our own language and regarding these little islands as home. They are our own kith and kin, and I see no reason why we should not be able to strengthen those ties of Imperial sentiment by adding to them the bonds of material interest. The Agreements we are considering have been reached after months and months of preparation, negotiation and discussion, and I want to pay my tribute to our own delegation, because having regard to the varied interests of the several delegations, to their differing industrial and commercial outlook and differing geographical and climatic considerations, and the difficult problem of reconciling the interests of Dominion with Dominion, of Dominion with Colony, of Colony with Colony, and of both Dominion and Colony with the interests of the Mother Country, I consider it a great achievement that in the short time available they were able to arrive at such a remarkable measure of agreement.
These Agreements will be ratified, but their ratification is not enough. The matter does not stop there; that can be only the beginning. It is not the slightest use our manufacturers relying entirely upon the tariff or the preference. They will still have to meet fierce competition, though they will be no longer handicapped. They must adopt themselves to the new conditions, go out and seek business and make up their mind to give the customer what he wants and not want they think he ought to have. As a matter of fact the Australian motor car market could have been captured for this country years and years ago if our manufacturers had been alive to the particular type of car wanted in that country. If they do as I have said, I have no doubt that these Agreements will be of great assistance, and we should soon see results in the shape of increased exports both to the Dominions and the Colonies.
For these reasons I propose to give my general support to the proposals. Like every Member who is not here as a delegate, I reserve to myself the right to 409 criticise or to disapprove of any of the details of these extremely far-reaching proposals, but on the main principle I have no hesitation whatsoever in expressing my approbation of it and pledging myself to give the Government my fullest support to carry it through. I may be asked in the country and in this House how I stand with my constituents in giving a pledge of this kind. I am a Liberal. I was adopted by a Liberal association after declaring my position in regard to our fiscal system-not before, but after. I have received the unanimous support of my executive, and am happy to say I enjoy their unabated confidence. I decline to subscribe to the theory that Free Trade is the Alpha and Omega of Liberalism. I decline to subscribe to the doctrine that it is the be-all and end-all of Liberalism. I decline, even, to acknowledge that it is the acid test of Liberalism. I was elected as a National Candidate, pledged to give support to a National Government on the basis of the Prime Minister's manifesto proposing to carry out any measures which might be necessary to lift this little country of ours out of the morass into which Socialist folly had plunged it. I was returned by Liberal, Conservative and Labour votes on a definite pledge to support the Government whether it were a question of tariffs, licences, prohibitions, or even import boards, of which my hon. Friends opposite are so fond—to support whichever was found necessary. That pledge I will redeem.
I can sympathise with my Friends who sit on these benches. Their opposition to these proposals is honest and sincere. They have made great sacrifices for their convictions, and they ought not to be laid open to reproach or recrimination. They deserve our sympathy for the role they have had to play in the last 12 months, and our respect for the action that they have to take. The opposition that comes from the other side is a purely factious opposition. Hon. Members there are neither Free Traders nor Protectionists. One does not know whether they are acting under instructions or not. The Labour Party Conference at Leicester decided that their lords and masters should be the Trades Union Congress. The Trades Union Congress is sitting on the fence on this question. It cannot make up its mind whether it is in favour 410 of tariffs or against tariffs. With the very laudable desire that animates the breast of every true sportsman, they want to be on the winning side. If these tariffs and Ottawa Agreements prove to be successful and bring back prosperity, as every section of this Committee must desire, I should not like to be in the place of those Members of the Labour patty who have been condemning these proposals.
They are like the young Samuel Weller. When he was going out into the world he wanted to get some words of advice from Mr. Weller senior, who gave him this sound counsel: "Always shout with the crowd, Sammy." Sammy, who was in doubt about his father's intelligence, said: "Aye, but suppose there are two crowds?" Sammy senior said, "Then you shout with the biggest." That is the position of our friends on the other side. Even the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones), although we are exporting coal to Canada, would not even give a generous acknowledgement of what has taken place, in so far as export to Canada is concerned. He is looking a gift horse in the mouth.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
On the contrary, I said that there had been a concession in respect of anthracite coal.
§ Mr. DICKIE
The speech which the hon. Member made, and which is, in all probability, within the recollection of the Committee, was based primarily and principally upon a denunciation of the Prime Minister. He challenged the Prime Minister to show whether there was anything of advantage to the mining industry. I interrupted to say that there was a certain concession so far as anthracite was concerned. That is exported from South Wales. The hon. Member has a good deal to say about Russia, but he has not told us that not a single ounce of coal went into Russia in the month of September. Nor did he tell the House that 20 times the amount of coal goes into Canada as is sent to Russia. That is factious opposition and sooner or later it will come home to roost. This little country of ours it at the parting of the ways. When Oliver Goldsmith penned his famous couplet about the landwhere wealth accumulates and men decay,this England of ours was not industrialised. He was thinking then of the countryside that he loved so well. Since 411 then we have had the Industrial Revolution. We have been industrialised to such an extent that we have become absolutely lopsided. Millions of acres of the best land has gone out of cultivation, and the peasantry of which he spoke has either been lured into the towns or been driven off the land into the towns. We are face to face to-day with a situation that, while men decay, wealth no longer accumulates. The land is decaying for lack of cultivation, and we have, side by side, a population decaying for lack of employment. We have material deterioration on the one hand and moral degradation on the other. No Government of the post-War period has realised either the magnitude or gravity of this problem. To-day we enter upon a new era. Our faces are, for good or ill, turned in a new direction. The Government have a glorious opportunity; I ask them to grasp it with energy, courage and faith. I believe that, if they will do that, the new chapter in British history of which we in this Committee are writing the first page, will prove to be as rich and as glorious as any that is enshrined in our historic past.
§ Mr. LEONARD
I have listened to the representatives of the Tory and Liberal parties, and it has been most interesting, but, in relation to the problem with which this country is faced, I think it has not been of very great importance. It has been interesting to hear of the constitutional points connected with laws that were passed in 1860. I notice that hon. Gentlemen who quite recently have told us that we are not in the world of Cobden and Bright are quoting laws that were passed during the time of Cobden and Bright to justify the position that they are adopting. The position that I see is that we have to find ways and means of dealing with the potentialities of production that this world can now display. The common people of this country want to know why it is that their potentiality for production is not given play, and that, when they are permitted to produce, the products are not allowed to get to parts of the world that are in need of them and are prepared to pay for them when they get them.
With one aspect of the proposals of the present Government I have been in complete accord, and that is the aspect of the speed with which they work. I was in- 412 trigued a month or two ago with the manner in which Orders-in-Council can be brought into being in order to forward proposals that the Government think are desirable. I was, and I am now, still further impressed by a simple phrase, that might be attached to any activity by this side of the House, when it gets the opportunity. That phrase is that "notwithstanding the practice of this House," so and so shall take place. There are many problems facing this country which I hope will be tackled with the same speed and determination, and accompanied by that phrase that "notwithstanding the practice of the House of Commons" we are going ahead, and going ahead quickly, in order to take away anxiety from the people of this country.
I have, along with other hon. Members, heard many expectations expressed as to the result of the tariffs now imposed, and of those yet to come. I have searched diligently, in the time at my disposal, but I have not been able to discern anything that is going to bring happiness to the people of this country, and because of that I am rather critical of the claim made that we shall receive advantages from these Ottawa proposals. The results of the tariff activity of the present Government are already over-rated. I have been at a loss to find anybody who can say definitely that they have had advantage from them. I have heard many expressions of hope, but, with regard to definite advantages, I have heard nothing. I would like to know if one of the results is going to be the betterment of the standard of life. Can anyone deny that the tendency has been in the other direction? Municipalities up and down the country do not appear to have any hope of the future, because they are going on their mad stampede after economy, and to such an extent have they gone, without faith in the Government's policy for the future, that, for example, in the second city of the Empire, Glasgow, the corporation have agreed to put into the Clyde, which is a tidal river, 38 million gallons of crude sewage every day.
A tariff war is to be waged much more vigorously than it has been waged in the past. One of the chief negotiators at Ottawa, Mr. Bennett, made a pronouncement which has been given prominence in the "Times." He does not hold out any hope for freer trade in the 413 future, notwithstanding all the signs that are supposed to have attended the application of a tariff in this country. We are still waiting for the result. It leaves me quite cold to be told that in the Dominions and Colonies, tariff boards are to be created to whom our producers or captains of industry may go and state their case. How much is it going to cost, and how much time is it going to occupy, if they are to make representations to the tariff boards? Sufficient has already been quoted in this House about the pronouncements of the tariff boards, and as to the value of their actions, as they have operated in other countries. Some hope for the future might be entertained by the direct taxpayers of this country, but the only thing that is seen by the indirect taxpayers, the people who pay their taxes through the medium of food and necessities of life, is that the cost of building this Empire is being put on their taxes.
We are assured that, in the happy days to come, wages will rectify the adverse balance that I fear will come. Unfortunately, we do not see the captains of industry assisting in the process. If it were the case that wages would rectify those hardships, I would like to see the captains of industry departing from their continual demands for reduced wages. They are going ahead, demanding reductions, and I am inclined to think that they place more reliance upon die statement of Sir Josiah Stamp that in the future, as against the practice in die past, the cost of living cannot be one of the factors in. determining wages. If that be so, the rates of wages paid to the wage-earners of this country will be determined in great measure by the army of unemployed that is being kept in every great capitalist country.
Protests have been voiced on behalf of various industries. I have just come from Ipswich, where I was speaking this morning to men who are closely associated with farming, and they are not very hopeful. I was speaking also to people concerned with the manufacture of agricultural machinery, one of the staple industries of that town, and they are appalled at the prospects under Article 21, which is chiefly directed against Russia. They see a great part of their market being taken from them, and they are also anxious with regard to the 414 Argentine. In that town, which a few years ago not only kept all its employés at work all the year round, but kept them working overtime for six months of the year supplying Russia and the Argentine, they are trembling because of the consequences which they fear. I should like to add one illustration to the comments which have been already made, by putting before the Committee a communication which many, if not all, Members of the House will have received this morning from the Accumulator Makers' Association. They state as follows:The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave the House, on the 25th February, a categorical undertaking that the Government would not permit the monopoly controlling the supply of Dominion lead to charge a premium above the London world price. Notwithstanding the fact that British consumers of Dominion lead have ever since been charged, and are still being charged, such a premium, the promised Government action has not been taken. Under the Ottawa Agreements Canada undertakes to remove the duty on British-made electrical storage batteries composed of plates measuring not less than 11 inches by 14 inches and not less than¾ inch in thickness. (Canadian Tariff Item 445e, Schedule E. United Kingdom—Canadian Agreement.) No accumulator plates exceeding ¾ inch in thickness are made, so that this means exactly nothing, though it appears to have been agreed to and accepted as a concession by the British Delegation.That is a fitting example of the attitude that has been adopted by our so-called experts. I represent, with other colleagues here, an organisation representing 6,500,000 consumers in this country. They have a. wholesale and retail trade of £320,000,000, mainly in the distribution of food, and, naturally, they are very much concerned and anxious at what may be the results of our activities at the present time. By the application of their co-operative principles they have been able to purchase and consume more commodities than would have been possible under other methods of spending their wages, and, because of that advantage, they have been able to approximate to a concept of domestic life which is above the average. They now see the possibility of that social concept of domestic life which they have built up being stolen from them, and, therefore, they are naturally protesting as much as they can. They see in front of them now a tariff wall which up to the present has had a few floors through which commodities might come, but which they see being 415 closed as quickly as the Government can close them against any intercourse with the people with whom they have traded in the past. They are also electors, and they look with dismay on the attitude of the Government towards those who represent them in this House, because they see that the power which they had of making or altering the law is being interfered with. I do not propose to deal with that point, however, because it has been argued to a considerable extent already.
The tariff machinery has no benefits for the common people in any part of the world. The producers must be allowed to come in contact with the consumers, and that cannot be brought about by adding to the height of the walls which exist at the present time. We desire the removal of the financial and commercial customs which clog the avenues of trade. The Foreign Secretary referred to the fact that our late colleague, Mr. William Graham, had no bargaining power, but I think he would have protested against such proposals as these, and would rather have fostered the tendencies and opinions which are now being expressed in all European Protectionist countries in favour of a departure from those customs which have brought disaster to them in a greater degree than to us. The facts of the world are against the erection of these barriers, either for bargaining or for any other purpose. Rafter should we take hope from the tendencies in Europe to which I have referred, and turn down this proposal and continue our efforts along the line of Free Trade.
I have listened to most of the speeches that have been delivered from all quarters of the Committee in this Debate on the Ottawa Agreements, but, though I have listened earnestly, I have failed to discover any section of any party which opposes these agreements who 'have stated what they would have done had they been the Government of the country in similar circumstances and had received an invitation to attend a conference at Ottawa. Yesterday the hon. Member far Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) did say that he was not against the Conference having been arranged and held, but believed that that was a proper step; but his complaint was against the agreements that were made at Ottawa. 416 I would ask whether the hon. Member suggests that we should have gone to Ottawa without making agreements? Every intelligent person must know that the only agreements that could have been made at Ottawa for mutual trade, were agreements built upon the principle upon which our agreements were framed. No other agreements could have been made, and, unless they had been made, it would have been useless to go to Ottawa. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), who leads that section of the Liberal party which is opposing these agreements, vehemently opposed them on grounds of principle. We have heard from both sections of the Opposition the old party cry of tariffs and Free Trade, but I say that, at a time when unemployment is so bad and when the distress of our people is so great, it is a bad show to be putting up to the country that this Government, which was created to deal with these problems, can find time to argue the rights and wrongs of Free Trade and Protection. The numbers of unemployed have increased while this Government has been in office.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman says, "Hear hear!" but it is no cause for joy or hilarity that the unemployment figures have increased, and there is no hon. Member, either on the Labour benches or in that section of the Liberal party who opposes these agreements, who could stand up and say that the unemployment figures have increased as a result of the policy of this Government, or that they have increased as a result of tariffs. They have increased in spite of tariffs, and in spite of every action that the Government has taken to deal with the trade situation. That increase must be a source of grave concern to all hon. Members in this House.
I represent a constituency which, perhaps, is one of the most difficult constituencies in the country to represent, where I have a mining interest, an agricultural interest, and an industrial interest; and I find myself, on going through the Ottawa Agreements, with very mixed opinions. It is easy to pick out, as was done by the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard), individual items where these agreements, perhaps, do not work out as we expect them to work out, but, looking at the broad 417 principle before us, we must admit that the achievements at Ottawa are more than we expected, having regard to the difficulties that confronted the delegates. When we realise that we had members from different parts of the Dominions and the Colonies, all with their own interests, and members of our delegation trying to keep in mind all the time the needs of British agriculture, and not to forget the overriding needs of the industrialists, it is a great. achievement, and one to which we all ought to give our support if we are interested in reducing the unemployment figures. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) talked about the barriers to world trade of tariffs. For over half a century we have been talking about the high tariff barriers that were an obstruction to trade. For over half a century we have pursued a policy of free imports, encouraging every other country to follow suit. We are told we have no idea of the benefits that are going to accrue from Protection. We WI only look round at the other countries of the world which have been protected all these years. I have not noticed any great desire on their part to follow the suit of this country and to adopt Free Trade. I do not think the way to reduce these tariff barriers is the way that we have gone on for more than half a century, allowing free imports into our country, putting our own people out of employment and forcing down wages, because the goods that were coming here were cheaper than those that we could produce. I believe the only way to keep up the standard of living of the workers in our own country to protect them against sweated goods from no matter what country they may come.
The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) made a statement yesterday which I was at a loss to understand. He said there would be less coal sold and less of those articles based upon coal, and that the mining industry would get it in the neck once again. We all understand that the mining industry is the last to benefit from tariffs. It can only benefit indirectly by an improvement in the coal consuming industries. But surely those industries will improve as the result of these Ottawa Agreements. Surely, if we are given a preference in the Empire markets, it will mean more 418 trade in the industries that burn coal. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield said Canada might have given a preference to the iron and steel industry. That is the greatest coal consuming industry in the country. In my own little area, although the Cannock Chase coalfield is far from prosperous, although the conditions there are very grave, as they are in other coalfields, we are all hoping that they will improve. I can claim that within the borders of my constituency blast furnaces which have been closed down for years have started up as the result of tariffs, and they are buying coal from one of the collieries of Cannock Chase, which is working five days a week. I visited an iron and steel works at the extreme end of my constituency which makes the finest tin sheets in the country. It bears the name of Baldwin. They were working not only full time but overtime. The managing director, who had been to. Ottawa, told me they were hoping for increased trade as a result of the preferences given by Canada. Although that iron works does not use Cannock Chase coal, it uses coal from an adjoining constituency. All these iron and steel works, which will have an improvement in trade as a result of the Ottawa Conference, will use more coal, and that Neill indirectly improve conditions in the coal industry.
An hon. Member opposite ended up a very admirable speech by speaking of the plight of British agriculture. I can assure the Committee, representing agriculture in my constituency, that we really never expected a great deal for agriculture from the Ottawa Agreement; but I can claim, and I think the House can claim, that the Agreements come to will be of fundamental importance to the agricultural industry. I do not suggest for a moment that the meat agreements are going to solve the difficulty, and I believe that something very much more drastic has to be done, and done at once, if we are going to save the agricultural industry from extinction. The Chancellor of the Exchequer quoted the wholesale prices for mutton and lamb. In my own area lambs have been selling in the last few weeks at 2½d. and 3d. a 1b., and last week, at an auction in Shropshire, 1,000 store cattle were brought to be sold 419 and only just over 100 of them found purchasers, and the few that did find purchasers were sold at ruinous prices. This shows that farmers have no money to buy store cattle. The Ottawa Agreement is the only effective method of dealing with the meat problem, because of the over-production in the world and the excessive importation of frozen and chilled meat into our country. We all realise that, although we have this concession to help meat, it is not going to be the be-all and end-all of the Government's policy. The hon. Member who spoke last said he represented se many million consumers. We are all consumers. The producers, too, are consumers. I represent a great number of agricultural workers, and, going through my constituency the other day, I was told by farmer after farmer that, when the roots were got up and the sugar beet was harvested, the men were going to be dispensed with. I represent those men. These men were honest, straight, sturdy, independent men, and have no unemployment pay, and, through no fault of their own, they will be driven to seek parish relief. When we talk about consumers, that is something that we must think about.
I hate to hear so much talk about cheap this and cheap the other. It is the worst word that was ever introduced into the English language. Cheap goods mean cheap men, every time and things are only cheap when people have not the money to buy them. We would not stand here and speak for the Ottawa Agreements, we would not go into the Lobby to support them, if we did not believe sincerely that something was going to come from them.
I should like to ask those hon. Gentlemen who find so much amusement from the fact that we are sincere, what they think the country will say to this Government when the next election comes round. Not that it matters; the next election does not count. Our job at the moment is to get the people out of their difficulties, to find them work and to give them better conditions. Whether we like things or whether we do not, we must support them if they are for the good of the community. I do not mind one iota whether j am defeated at the next General Election or not, if I am able to go to my electorate and say, "Your conditions to-day are 420 better than they were when you elected me four years ago." I should be happy to think that I had done my job. I want to ask the House and those hon. Members who find it so amusing because we are sincere about these things, whether they suppose that the country will mind two hoots about Free Trade and Protection? Do hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who oppose these Agreements suppose that the country at the moment is interested in Free Trade and Protection? People are too busy wondering where they are going to get their next meal. They are much too busy wondering how they can possibly get a job to bother about Free Trade and Protection.
I should like to ask those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who thought that this was an opportune moment to leave the Government and to leave the job to which they set their hands 12 months ago, if they think that the country will approve of their action. Do they not think that the country would have been much more grateful to them if they could have said, "We supported the Ottawa Agreements even though we really did not believe in them." They would approve of that action much sooner than they would, if we said: "We were afraid of the results of the Ottawa Agreements, and thought that they would put up the price of foodstuffs, and so we sat tight and did nothing." I think that the country will much sooner condemn the Government if they sit tight and do nothing, than if they go forward with the policy in which they believe and fail.
I want to say a few words about the part of the Ottawa Agreements which deals with eggs. I believe that that part of the Agreements will have a very beneficial effect upon the poultry industry in this country. I believe that in this country we can produce every egg we need. An egg is not fresh when it is a week old. There is nothing better than a fresh egg, and you can only get a really fresh egg by buying what is produced at home. It is interesting to note that since 1913 the egg production of the country has more than doubled. That fact is interesting, and it is also interesting to note that in the first eight months of this year the imports of eggs into the country went down by 22 per cent., and that the increase in our own production went up by 10 per cent. I would like to remind 421 hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who said that the result of tariffs on the price of foodstuffs would be to increase the price that last May the price of eggs in this country was below the pre-War price, and that at the present moment is only a little above the pre-War price in spite of the 10 per cent. duty. I am very grateful there is to be an increased duty upon foreign eggs, because it is the foreign eggs which compete against the British producer. Although there is not one of us in this House who really believes that the Ottawa Agreements will solve all our difficulties, those of us who intend to go into the Lobby and support the Agreements, believe sincerely that they will help the trade and industry in the country, and will reduce unemployment. We believe that at this moment when world trade is so very depressed, we can make the best contribution towards the solution of its economic difficulties by going to the International Conference as a united British Empire.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Mrs. Ward) has told us what she believes. Some people will believe anything, but they will not do so for all time. At the next election they are likely to believe something different in Cannock. This ought to be a sort of cheerful gathering. The victors opposite bringing home their sheaves; the martyrs who have sacrificed all, inclinations, friends, principles, in order to stand by the State and their jobs have come home victorious, and yet the whole Debate to which we have been listening for the last three days is one long tale of dolefulness. I suppose we made a mistake in the people we sent to Ottawa. They would not bargain. They were gentlemen. Everyone knows the definition of a gentleman. A gentleman is one who never looks at the items of the bill. They did not. They could not, and therefore they got a series of little things like the lead business, concessions which were well advertised, but prove valueless when studied by hopeful beneficiaries. They are a beautiful series of gifts which we are on no account to remove from the horse's mouth.
This great Conference which was to cement the Empire, which was, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to spread 422 the "ideals of peace, justice and freedom," and to lead to more employment in this country, has turned the Empire into a bargain counter, and has left the British Empire ruled not by this House of Commons nor by the Government, but by Messrs. Bennett and Bruce. And note, they are not ruled just at the moment, but for years. No answer can be given from the Treasury Bench for five years to come without first consulting Messrs. Bennett and Bruce. We shall be justified in asking, when any question is answered, whether it has the approval of Messrs. Bennett and Bruce. This is what the British Empire has been brought to. What can one say of these Ottawa Agreements? They will never be reprieved. They have proved a disappointment even for the National Government. One need not be surprised that the House to-day, the British Parliament, is feeling very much like the morning after the night before. I think we were all guilty. I think there was a time when I myself was so impressed by the welcome accorded to the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir Henry Croft) by the entire Press of the country, by the economists, Josiah Stamp, Keynes and others, that I began to say to myself: "Have I been wrong all my life? Is there something in this Protection? Will it improve trade and increase employment? Is there something psychological about it?" I think the word "psychological" had an enormous influence at the last election. Psychology put hon. Members on the benches opposite, not hard economic argument or fact, but just psychology. That psychology led people to begin to believe in tariffs. Even the "Manchester Guardian" for one awful week was unsound. Therefore, we are all feeling like the morning after the night before, but do not let us forget that it is the morning after.
We have had tariffs. I suppose we shall get. more. There is not one hon. or right hon. Member opposite who wants ever to see another tariff in this world, but we shall get them, though few hon. Members want more. We have had 18 months' experience of them. [HON. MEM BERS: "No !"] Well, it seems like that. In the short nine months or 12 months you have killed the export trade of this country. The exports last month were lower than they have ever been before. That is what tariffs have achieved. The 423 old argument was right and cannot be gainsaid, that goods do pay for goods. If you stop imports coming into the country you stop the same value of ex ports going out. What has happened? We have managed to sell some crockery abroad even during these last few months, but the purchasers cannot get sterling to pay us. They cannot pay and they will not pay. Why cannot they get sterling? Because they are not allowed to sell goods here which can be paid for in sterling.
It is all very well for those people who deal only with the home markets, who have now got their protective tariffs, to be cheerful at the present time; but you will not find one man engaged in the export trade of this country, you will not find one shipping interest in this country or one shipbuilder, who has anything good to say now for the tariffs which have killed our foreign trade. There has been nothing more painful during these Debates than to watch the face of my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, now that he sees his pet nostrum, in which he has honestly believed for 50 years, ever since he sucked his first bottle, put into operation. How kind was Providence when it killed off Moses before he got to the promised land. This is a sore subject. Hon. Members do not like to discuss Protection now, but they are going to put the coping stone on this magnificent edifice to-night. They will stream into the Lobby in obedience not to reason but in obedience to those awful speeches that they made in the country at the last election. They will vote for a thing which is the biggest—no, I will not say it, because it has some good points about it so far as the Dominions are concerned, but for us it is not merely a pig in a poke but the worst bargain that any Government ever made.
Let us look for one moment at the defence that was put up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He felt that it was a little difficult to claim that this was a bargain which was likely to develop the trade and industries of this country. Therefore, he pointed, with patriotic fervour, to the increase in the purchasing power of the Dominions which would be brought about by the scheme. It is true that we in this country do not get many tariffs lowered; there is not much in it that will help British industry, 424 but, said the Chancellor of the Exchequer, think of the prosperity which will result in Australia, in Canada and in loyal South Africa, when they send us their goods. You shut out Russia, Scandinavia and Denmark and you have to buy Colonial goods. They will be prosperous or some of them will be prosperous in the Dominions. The landlords there will be prosperous. They will make more money and then, says the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after they have made more money in Canada or Australia they will be able to buy more British goods. That is just the sort of fallacy which the House of Commons exists to knock down.
You cannot increase the prosperity of a country even by making the rich richer if you do it at the expense of other people. You are making the landlords in Australia and in Canada better able to buy British goods because they are getting better prices out of the miners in Cannock. Everybody in this country will have to pay more than they otherwise would for all the necessities of life, and that additional payment will go to certain people who will be able to buy more British goods. Do hon. Members imagine that that is going to increase either the trade of this country or the prosperity of the people of this country? Right hon. Gentlemen now opposite will not dare to suggest that. It is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has not been brought up on sound economics, who thinks it. Let me give an illustration. In a few weeks time I hope to levy on all hon. Members a good sound substantial sum for publishing the history of this institution. I shall point out that that will help to solve the unemployment problem, that students fresh from college will do useful productive work, and that it will mean fewer people on the unemployment market. It will not mean that. When I take your half-crown, you will not be able to spend that half-crown on something else. Therefore, to that extent, there will not be an addition to the number of people employed in the country. It will simply mean that someone who is employed will be employed, and someone else will be short of work. That is exactly what is being done in this case.
You are shifting trade. Instead of trade going where it wants to go you are sending it to countries where it does 425 not want it to go. You are increasing the prosperity of some people in the Dominions but you are reducing the prosperity of other purchasers of your goods. You are not adding one iota to the wealth of the community. Indeed, you are doing the reverse because by pushing trade where you think it ought to go instead of where it should go you are putting additional obstructions in the way of the creation of wealth. We must get away from the idea that merely by shifting trade we increase trade or employment at all. All we do is to change the direction; to the benefit of some and to the injury of others. At the present time your protective tariffs are benefiting those in the protected markets but you are ruining the shipping industry and our export trades. The other fallacy which seems to have affected or infected every person who talks about economics, from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the hon. Lady who spoke last, is the denunciation of cheapness and the demand for higher prices. If an ordinary individual conducted his business on those lines he would go bankrupt.
§ Mr. J. P. MORRIS
Seeing that the right hon. and gallant Member is posing as an authority on the demerits of scientific Protection I should like to ask him this question. Why is it that whereas in 1913 the exports of this country amounted to 13.11 of the world's exports in 1929 they only amounted to 11.56 of the world's exports, a decrease of 1.57 per cont., notwithstanding a 25 per cent. increase in world trade?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
And the hon. Member asks me to explain that' It is because hon. Members like himself have been doing their thinking in this country. It is not the sort of question you ask anyone during his speech. The question has nothing whatever to do with my speech. It is fortunate that people like the hon. Member who are muddle-headed, and do not understand economics, who have no knowledge of the past, and get their politics at the street corners have no chance of ever directing the public affairs of this country.
The right hon. and gallant Member may give way if he chooses, but if not then the hon. Member for North Salford (Mr. J. P. Morris) has no right to speak.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I will give way to a question but not to a speech. Do we really want to conduct the affairs of this country in a different way to that in which we should conduct our own private business? It is pathetic to find the Government of this country urging economy, urging departments to get rid of labour, and at the same time urging private persons to employ people who would not otherwise be employed. I have argued over and over again that we want higher prices in this country but not solely for the benefit of those who get the higher prices. I have argued for the inflation of the currency in order to raise prices so that the benefit of a rise in prices would enable the export trades of this country to develop and more people find employment. If you are going to allow the benefit which goes to the producers in higher prices to settle in the pockets of those who have an opportunity of securing that benefit there is no advantage in that whatever.
Is it any use pushing up the value of the selling price of cattle or sheep if the benefit is going in higher rents to the landlord class? Is it any use putting up the price of any monopolised article? Sa long as the wages of the workers of this country are controlled and regulated by the cut-throat competition of the unemployed, wages everywhere tend to sink to subsistence level. What is the use of arguing in favour of higher prices when they will have no effect in reducing unemployment and only make it more difficult for people to live on the very small wages they are now getting. That is why in the past we have always argued the question of Free Trade and Protection largely from the point of view of the cost of living and the burden of these taxes on the poorest of the people. That is why the bread tax and the butter tax and the cheese tax and the tomato tax are becoming the commonplace subjects of every political gathering in the country. That is where they touch the people. It is not the slightest use saying that meat, bread, and tomatoes have doubled in price owing to the patriotic 427 conduct of a National Government in snaking them dearer. The people pay every time.
The right hon. Gentlemen here and in the Dominions who have so successfully engineered this Ottawa Agreement have put this country under the rule of Dominion statesmen, have tied our hands for all time to a system of taxation which will increase the cost of living to the very poor, and which far from increasing employment in this country will smash our export trade and deprive us of some of our best customers. The policy, the Government's idea, was to reduce tariffs and lead to an era when Great Britain would be able to bargain with all her customers for a mutual reduction of tariffs, but all this has now perished and we are now fixed to a rigid system over which we have no control ourselves, a system which is controlled by people who are not represented in this House and do not sit here. The Government have lost their only chance of using the present tariffs as bargaining counters to bring down the tariffs of other countries. They have shut us off from Russian trade and they are going to shut us off from trade with Denmark—there is much more Danish blood in this country than South African—with Scandinavia, and from trade with every foreign country. That may injure those countries; it will certainly injure the workers of this country, who subsist on the export trade by which we have lived in the past. All is now to be sacrificed to the street-corner stupidity of the Tariff Reform League of the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft).
§ Mr. SLATER
I have listened to various arguments regarding Ottawa, and I would ask those who are in charge of working-class interests in this country whether, if at this very minute they were in office, they would take off the tariffs that have recently been imposed. I suggest that even the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) would not dare to do anything of the kind. We who are business men with international connections, as well as politicians, what are we doing? We are fighting a battle for the industries of our country. Mechanisation has made the Japanese, Chinese, Indians and Russians as prolific producers as the craftsmen of this country. 428 All round the world capital is seeking an outlet by inducing countries of primary production to establish secondary industries. With that object in view those countries establish tariffs. Within our own Empire—I do not exclude them—these manufacturers have one object from morning to night, and that is to sell the products of machinery which is the best that our inventive geniuses can devise. That machinery we have supplied to them, in Russia, in Japan and in India. These people seek not only to sell their products in their own countries, but to send them back to Western civilisation, where they destroy the standard of living of our people. [HON. MEMBERS "Hear, hear!"] Some hon. Members say "Hear, hear." Do they say that we must have no barrier against these people? Is the standard of life of the working classes in this country safe in the custodianship of those who say that we must have no barrier against that sort of thing.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Would not the most effective barrier be for those capitalists to employ labour here, and to pay wages to workers in this country, instead of investing their capital in other countries?
§ Mr. SLATER
They are not always the same people who control the industries in this country and in other countries.
§ Mr. SLATER
I may be one, but I did it because tariffs were established in those countries against British goods.
§ Mr. SLATER
I am not speaking of India. The important thing is that we went behind the tariff walls. If we are to maintain trade at all, if we are to give the working classes a fair standard of living, we must have protection against the unfairness of the relation of work to wages in other countries. Divide the world and take Suez as the central line of division, and assume that there are 1,000,000,000 East of Suez and 500,000,000 to 600,000,000 West of Suez. The problem is that since the War we industrialists, as a consequence of the War to some extent, have been trying to get the people in the East to pay anything from 100 per 429 cent. to 300 per cent. more for the goods we have to sell, and they have not the money to do it. The only possible way to retain our trade is to use our own markets here, and to create other markets by the application of science to all types of industry, by the establishment of technical and commercial heads at the head of all our great industries, and by cooperation with the Government. Our taxation is one-third of our national income. That necessarily reduces the purchasing power of wages. It is necessary that the manufactures of the country should have an opportunity of going forward, or re-equiping their factories and of having the home market at least temporarily.
§ Mr. SLATER
We have raised money for many things. The only way to raise it for this purpose is to make our industries prosperous. We must help the industries of the country so that they will not have to come to Governments and beg for assistance, but will be able to maintain a fair standard of life for the worker and give a fair reward for the capital invested. I do not want to take away any of the social services, but I do say that the manufacturers should be given this chance, the first chance they have had for half a century. The export trade will then come in a natural way. I have here figures relating to the volume of trade, showing where the Empire buys and where it sells. In 1930 we spent £455,000,000 more abroad than was spent with us throughout the Empire. In other words, £455,000,000 was taken out of the Empire and taken to other places. What we want to do is to direct our energies and our attention to seeing that these people spend the pounds in this country, instead of taking them out of London, and in that way to create work for British workmen.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
I am sure that we are all grateful to the. hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Slater) for having lifted this discussion away from the smaller points and taken us through the world and given us some of his big ideas. Whether we agree with him or not we must all admit that his was a very impressive speech and he succeeded in calling the Leader of the Opposition to his feet. As it is the first 430 opportunity I have had of doing so, may I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley on his appointment to the leadership of the party. Everyone who realises the right hon. Gentleman's great human qualities knows that the party will be safe in his hands.
§ Sir H. CROFT
The right hon. Gentleman rose to his feet in order to correct my hon. Friend upon a rather important point. I do not wish to represent his words as being other than they were but I think the Committee understood him to say that he deprecated the fact that British capitalists had been exporting all this machinery to the East——
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I did not say that. I understood that the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Slater) was complaining of the competition of low-paid workers and that he wanted a tariff in order to deal with the products of those workers. I interjected the remark that it would be much better that those capitalists should not employ that low-paid labour.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I am quite satisfied with the right hon. Gentleman's explanation and I beg his pardon. I understood him to say that 'be deprecated British capitalists exporting this machinery; if that is not his view I cannot understand why he rose to his feet. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), who spoke with his usual charm, dealt with only one point in regard to the Ottawa Conference but it was an important one. His great complaint was that as a result of Ottawa we were only going to shift trade from one lot of people to another and, he said, it was not going to increase trade as a whole. Even if his contention were true and that you do not increase your trade by opening wider the avenues to your best customers, we in the party to which I belong deliberately hold the view that it is desirable to deflect trade to your own people. He says quite frankly that he would just as soon see the trade go to the Scandinavian as to the Australian. Let it be made quite clear that we differ with him on that point. Nothing will ever bridge that gulf between us. We believe, that our own people and the people of the Empire oversea should be our first con- 431 cern; that the people in Australia or Canada should come close after the people of Yorkshire and Lancashire in our affections and in our thoughts and in our legislation.
§ Sir H. CROFT
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman knows South Africa very well and I have had the opportunity of knowing a little about it also. He knows the number of men of British blood who are living there and who are having a fight for existence—many of them facing bankruptcy. These Ottawa Agreements are going to bring hope and heart to them. I was also interested to hear the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's references to the question of high prices. Those who heard the very able speech of the leader of the junior Liberal party will remember that he said that the hope of the world was that wholesale prices would rise. I think that that was the effect of his statement, and that hope is shared by the right hon. and. gallant Gentleman. I think we are all agreed that, somehow or other, we have to make production successful and if you are going to make production successful, prices are going to rise. To put it conversely if wholesale prices rise production will become economic once more, and you will have that half of the world which is out of action, buying once more from the industrial nations.
Naturally a good many of the points which have arisen in this Debate have centred round the change in the constitution of His Majesty's Government. We have heard reasons offered with great sincerity as to why certain hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have taken the big decision of leaving the National Government. We were all delighted to hear the speech of the ex-Secretary of State for Scotland. It was a very fine effort, a very good Parliamentary performance, but, with all respect to him, I do not think we need dwell upon the constitutional issue. The speech of the Foreign Secretary on that point was so effective that I do not think it could have been answered even by the ablest speech from those benches. The fact remains that on this constitutional issue the members of my party are not prepared to be sticklers for precedent in 432 matters affecting our own people in this country and in the Empire. This is such an immense thing to the vast majority in the House of Commons that if necessary we are prepared to break precedents if it will help our own kith and kin.
Reference has been made to certain Treaties. I could go through a long list of Treaties but, it seems to be unnecessary to point out that every economic treaty ever entered into, has been a treaty of time. It is no good having a treaty which only lasts for a year or two. Half the British tropical possessions in Africa—the mandated territories are a. different problem—come under the Treaty of St. Germain and it is a 10-year treaty. Everybody knows that, under it, we in the House of Commons are not able to do anything to give any fiscal advantages to the people in that area. So it is with every treaty and it would have been a sham to have gone to Ottawa to make an agreement which was only to last a year. That would have been disastrous. It would have meant that we were not working on a long-distance policy; that it was merely the gesture of a moment. Let the ex-Secretary of State for Scotland suppose that some arrangement were being made between England and Scotland. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) has lately become a Scottish Home Ruler.
§ Sir H. CR0FT
I understand, however, that prominence has been given to this subject lately and that it has rather upset a few Scottish Liberals. Whether that be so or not, supposing that the right hon. Gentleman gets his way in that matter, and that it is found necessary to have an economic arrangement between a Home Rule England and a Home Rule Scotland just as you might have an arrangement between the Irish Free State and this country. Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that. it would be desirable to have an agreement only for a year, or one which could he denounced at the end of six months? Certainly not. To some of us the people of the Dominions are almost as dear as the people of Scotland-much as we love the people of Scotland and much as we respect their representatives and especially the ex-Secretary of State for Scotland.
With regard to the "free hand" which has been so much challenged in the 433 speeches and in the manifesto of the resigning Ministers I desire to say a word. I have sat in this House for nearly 23 years but I do not think it can be said that I ever sat very much at the feet of the present Prime Minister. I honour him as a great public figure, but having only had the privilege of little more than a few moments conversation with him in all that time, perhaps if I bear witness to his integrity with regard to the General Election, coming from one so detached, it may be of some value. There are one or two facts which are forgotten. The Prime Minister appealed to the country, without any shadow of doubt, for a completely free hand in order to deal with the national peril, and to balance the Budget and balance our trade, and he made it clear that he would use any measure which the Cabinet decided was necessary, including tariffs, if necessary, licences and prohibitions. Not one of his colleagues, as far as I am aware, declared that if the right hon. Gentleman found it necessary to adopt one of these measures he would resign from the Government. These Gentlemen received the blessings of the Prime Minister and of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Conservative party, which blessings were given on the understanding that they accepted that position of the Government.
Can there be any doubt about the mandate at the last Election? Here I am speaking of something I do know a little about, because there is a certain organisation with which I am connected and which has a large membership in this House, as in the last. The members of that Parliamentary Committee, which contained the whole Conservative party, with the exception of 20, in the last Parliament, met five times upstairs during the crisis, and unanimously pledged themselves that every one of them would go to the country on a free hand for the protection of British industries by safeguarding measures and a free hand for Empire economic unity by means of Imperial Preference. When this House met there was actually a majority not only of the Conservative party but of this House, pledged to this policy. Can there be any doubt as to the mandate which the majority received? I would remind the Committee that on the very day that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen received the blessings of my right 434 hon. Friend the Leader of the Conservative party—I am not complaining—Professor Ramsay Muir, his chief lieutenant, launched 81 shock troops against previously sitting Members, who were supporters of my right hon. Friend. True, 79 of the Conservatives so attacked survived, and only two seats were wrested from them, but that also will convince anyone that this issue was very much before the members of that party. I can go to a higher authority than even the very high authority who sits on those benches. I must read one short extract from a speech of a very distinguished statesman at the last. Election. He said:I implore my fellow-countrymen not to abandon in a moment of panic the sound and healthy position this country holds for the malarial swamps of tariffs. The Government appear to have discussed only formulas for an election to enable them to have a free hand to impose a crude general tariff. The choice left to the electors is between the food-taxing Tory and the Free Trade Labour candidate. On those grounds I definitely urge every Liberal to vote for the Socialist in preference to the Conservative.That was the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). Who can say this was not an issue at the General Election? Mr. Arthur Hender son, the then leader of the Labour party, also made a statement on this subject. He said:I am standing in this election as an unqualified Free Trader.9.30 p.m.
It is idle to say that this question was not discussed. There is not a, Member sitting on these benches but knows it was the one question which was exciting the interest of the electors throughout the length and breadth of the land. What is the contention? It is that by going to Ottawa and making this Agreement, the Government have abandoned the national policy, but who is to decide what the national policy is? Is it the 33 or is it the 520 Members who support the Government? The Liberal party have always been great sticklers for the fact that they are really democratic, standing for the government of the people, by the people, for the people. A right hon. Gentleman sitting-on these benches said something rather polite about me in my boyhood. Counting noses has been the occupation of the Liberal party since childhood. They tell us it is this one-sixteenth who ought to decide whether 435 this was or was not the correct interpretation of the national will. Then why have an election at all?
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen has been a very skilful performer in many fields. We all remember the crisis which brought all this legislation about, and made tariffs necessary in the last Parliament. At that time the right hon. Gentleman rode into the ring in a standing position on a gallant Socialist steed, and gave it frequent cuts with the whip, and going from a trot into a canter, and from a canter into a gallop, crying all the time "Spend more, spend more, spend more." Then another horse came into the ring which was held alongside, and gracefully he slipped on to the back of that other gallant mount, which represented national economy, a balanced Budget, and balanced, trade. Bowing to the audience, he said, "Here am I, the national saviour." This is rather ancient history, but the next act was received with hearty applause. This time he came in riding two horses, Government and Opposition. Unfortunately, one of the horses saw his trainer, Professor Ramsay Muir, standing in the wings with a bundle of hay and wanted to go in that direction, and the right hon. Gentleman found himself pitched—we hope not with any personal injury to himself—between the two.
What has changed the right hon. Gentleman's view, and that of his colleagues? For he does not stand alone. His colleagues are quite sincere, and they agree with him. Their sincerity we do not doubt, but the cause of the change we do not understand. He voted for the wheat quota which we learn now from Liberal literature is much worse than any tariff; he voted for the Horticultural Bill, and he voted for the 50 per cent. duties on imported products, which I very much regret were not retained. Unemployment was going down every day, under these duties, and it has gone up since. All these things he swallowed. He said, "Yes, in a world economic crisis, I can support them." But I must also remind him that he even stomached the Import Duties Bill, and remained in the Government when it was passed, though it covered duties on nearly every article coming into this country, including foodstuffs. All this he could stand. Bread 436 and potatoes, tomatoes and milk, but not cod liver oil.
It was not what we had done at Ottawa really that can have driven him into the wilderness, because there was no new principle established at Ottawa. We decided our fiscal policy here last spring. I am afraid it was the fact that, in return for the Measure which Great Britain passed, in its great gesture to the Empire overseas, the Dominions and India reciprocated. That has been the really tiresome thing. What galls them, I think, is the success of the Ottawa Conference. One hon. Member declared that if Ottawa were a success, it would be a tragedy. That was an ex-Minister. The idea that the Empire should buy from us here in Britain instead of from foreign countries was repugnant, and apparently the lowering of so many duties in the Dominions against British goods has been something which conflicts terribly with their Free Trade principles.
Had I time, I would read to the Committee a few of the extracts from the new Canadian tariff proposals. I wonder if they have been really studied. I remember that, before the delegates went to Ottawa, a lot of people in all parties in this House felt very doubtful whether they could pull off a success. The truth is that we all knew the immense difficulties in the way. Thirty years ago you had a clean sheet, and you could have walked in and got something very like Free Trade in the Empire. What the ex-Secretary of State for Scotland said to-day was quite right. All our Dominions are protectionist in character; they believe in it. After all, they have built up a wonderful prosperity under it, and they say, "That policy is good enough for us. We have reached this great success under a tariff, and we shall not abandon it, but we shall do all we can to adjust it in favour of products from the Empire overseas."
I have here a list of Canadian articles. I have roughly counted them up, and these are all duties which have been lowered or they are commodities which are entirely free. There are 61 British products which henceforth are going to enter Canada absolutely free. If you look at these items, they touch almost every branch of industry in this country. Tell me of a man in the steel trade who does not agree that a wonderful Agreement 437 has been pulled off. I have heard only in the last week, on two occasions, that blast furnaces are going to be reopened on account of these Agreements. I heard the other day in the West Riding of Yorkshire that another mill has been opened simply and solely because of the—[Interruption.] I know some hon. Members cannot understand the difference between a mill and a Colony. Many hon. Members here come from Yorkshire, and they know that it is true to say that, as far as the woollen trade is concerned, things are very much brighter. I have recently been in Yorkshire and have seen there factories working late at night, overtime, which have been closed down or on short hours for many years past. These are facts, and you will see the same results in many other industries.
It is wearisome going through a long list of industries, but I see here earthenware tiles for roofing, which are going to Canada free; common: window glass, glass sheets, plate glass, all to go in free; a large number of aluminium products to go in free. In the iron and steel group, I have here some 15 or 16 different items which henceforth are to go in free. Then you come to questions like motor vehicles, the whole range of Sheffield cutlery articles, motor cycles and sidecars thereof, India-rubber boots and shoes, and a very large range of chemical products and of electricity products. If this big range of commodities is going to have free entry into Canada in the future, is there any honest man here who believes that that will not be of benefit to the workers in British factories?
Might I say just one word with regard to the general principles of this policy? We have had to answer these points because they have been raised but there are far bigger things than these. Everyone in this House believes in the "Buy British" campaign. There is not a single Member of the Liberal party who has ever got up in this House and said, "I dissent from the Buy British" campaign." If you believe in it, what is the harm in helping that principle forward by legislation? What was the "Buy British" campaign? Buy first from your own people and secondly from your people in the Empire overseas. What would happen if we rejected these Agreements? What would be the result 438 throughout the length and breadth of Empire? What would have happened if our delegates had gone to Ottawa and said, "Yes, although this Conference has been contemplated and decided upon ever since the late Government were in office, we have come here to talk, but we close the door on anything which would be helpful to your primary producers"? The result would have been disastrous, not only to the whole future of the British Empire, but to any conference which might have to be held on any other subject in the world.
There are one or two points, naturally, with which later on we shall want to deal. There is the question of labour content in articles. There is a danger that foreign countries will be able to ride through the preferences by assembling goods in the Dominions which have no very large British labour content in them. This is a subject which certainly must be watched. I am not going to criticise His Majesty's Government because of the failure to impose duties on meat. Personally, I think they were wrong, but I am not going to quarrel because one of them, even an important commodity, is left out when they have won, as I believe, the confidence of the vast majority of the people of the Empire over the whole of the rest of the Agreements.
An hon. Member gets up and says, "What have you done about Russia? You are depriving 30,000 people of their work." How does he know? No country has been more successful in its trade with Russia than the United States of America, and they have no trade agreement at all with Russia, and are never likely to have. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, and are his friends aware, of the fact that if you could deflect two-thirds of the trade in manufactured goods in the Empire in the last three years from foreign countries to this country, you would be employing not 30,000, but 1,000,000 British workers per annum? I can only say that I believe that the vast majority of Members of this House warmly applaud these Agreements and are absolutely determined to back the Government right through. I admit that it is not a big thing like I would have had. We have seen the efforts of His Majesty's Government to meet their colleagues who are now below the Gangway. I admit that it might have been a bigger thing, but that does not matter. 439 A foundation has been laid, and henceforth it shall be true that we are able to say that the British people, in whatever country they dwell, prefer the products of their own countrymen in whatever country they live in the British Empire. That is a principle for which some of us have fought all our lives. We believe it is something very great; we believe it will have a marked effect.
It is true that to-day, in this distressed, chaotic world, we have not seen a tremendous stride forward towards recovery, but at least since this policy has been instituted the rot in this country has been less than in any other country in the world. At least we can say that whereas the whole export trade of the world seems to be going down, we have more or less held our own, and that the decrease in our exports during the last 12 months has been small compared with the three previous years. This Agreement has not yet been carried in this House or in the Dominions; it has not been started, and I beg men of every party to give it a chance. We have established this new policy; be fair to it, and do not go about the country abusing it before it has been tried. What else has the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen to offer? What constructive proposal has he? Not one. We have made an effort, and I believe that the House is going to be loyal to the Government in seeing this policy through. We may not agree with them in every particular, but we believe that the Government are on the right course, and we shall thank them right to the end.
§ Sir STAFFORD CRIPPS
The hon. Baronet who has just resumed his seat and who, as we know, feels deeply that the policy on which the Government have embarked is the right one, has appealed to the Committee to give it a chance. It is surely for the Committee to examine the policy, and if it decides that it is a wrong policy, the worst possible thing will be to give it a chance to get established. There seems at this stage of the Debate upon these proposals very little left to be said. In fact, it is difficult to understand why so much time was necessary to discuss so relatively unimportant a matter. Presumably, the reason was that the Government desired to get as full an advertisement as 440 possible for what they believed to be the wonders of Ottawa, and also to allow plenty of time for what may be termed the demolition of Darwen. I do not propose to enter into the Liberal tribal warfare, because the probability of so doing would be an attack from both sides, but one may perhaps remark that the plunder over which they are now quarrelling seems to be very much less important and significant than the plunder which they shared last February. For the moment, of the two tribes one might call those under the prophet the Levites, and those under the Foreign Secretary the Sittites; and that small but intrepid body of skirmishers who seem to be skirting round the ranks of both tribes, we might call the Amalgamites. These three bodies seem to have occupied most of this Debate.
One of the questions which was discussed by the Foreign Secretary to-day was what is called the constitutional point that has been raised. Our party are not very interested in constitutional points, but, on the other hand, I anticipate that if and when we come into power, those now opposite may be very interested in constitutional points, and we shall no doubt be able to borrow many of their arguments. May I say this upon the point that the Foreign Secretary, with that ingenuity for which he is so famed, managed with great dexterity to skate right round without ever meeting? As I see it, the question that was raised was not whether this is a term usual in ordinary commercial treaties, because no such term as that appearing here has ever appeared in an ordinary commercial treaty. Commercial treaties deal with goods imported to or from the country with whom the treaty is made, but this is dealing with goods imported to and from other countries not the Dominions. As I understand it, the suggestion that is made as regards the constitutional point is that it is not competent to tie the hands of the Government as regards other matters outside Dominion imports and exports when dealing with the Dominions in a treaty.
§ Sir J. SIMON
If this is a new situation which has never presented itself before, how can there be a constitutional practice?
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
If the right hon. Gentleman bad waited one moment 441 longer, he would have heard what I was going to say about it. I am not suggesting that there is any constitutional practice, but that that point was made, and that it was a point with which he did not deal in his speech. So far as we are concerned, it does not matter to us whether it is a new feature of the Constitution, because we do not believe in the theory of the continuity of policy in these matters when that policy raises a definite political issue in this country. We believe that any Government that is elected ought to be free to abrogate treaties of this sort when those treaties attempt to fix a definitely party policy upon Parliament. Whether this be by virtue of the constitution or by virtue of the will of the majority of the people, seems to be a point which is hardly worth discussing.
The question which the Committee has to decide is as to the desirability of accepting these Agreements as they stand without any amendment of any sort. That must depend upon two main considerations—first, whether as bargains they are good bargains; and second, what their effect will be upon our other interests. The main criticism that is to be levelled at them is their total ineffectiveness, their failure to do anything to meet what is admitted by almost every economist and every Government as being the great difficulty in which world trade Ends itself at the moment. That ineffectiveness, I think, has really been admitted in the course of this Debate. The Lord President has said on many occasions that the great test by which any Government will be judged is its power to deal effectively with unemployment. If we apply that test to these proposals, we may look to see what the Prime Minister said upon the point on Tuesday last:We have already had statements that unemployment has gone up since tariffs have been introduced. Is that true? Only a month or two ago those who were in favour of tariffs were telling us that unemployment, which was going up more rapidly then than it bar; been going up since tariffs were introduced, was going up on account of Free Trade. There is this problem, which is a social problem relating to the constitution or society itself, and are we going—[An HON. MEMBER: 'You will offend your friends !']— I do not care whether I offend or otherwise. It is futile for any section in this House, any party in this House, any propagandist outside this House, to go away and delude the country that the rise in unemployment during the last few years is evidence either of the failure of Free Trade 442 or the success of tariffs. It is not true. This state of rising unemployment is common to Free Trade countries, common to tariff countries."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th October, 1932; col. 144, Vol. 260.]That shows that the Prime Minister, so far as he is concerned, appreciates that neither Free Trade nor tariffs is going to offer any solution of the problem which this country finds itself up against so acutely at the moment. The real history of Ottawa is that something had to be done. We have been told on more than one occasion that something had to be done. Why? Because for years past the people of this country have been told that their salvation lay in Imperial preference or tariffs. However much those who have said it realised from the experience of tariffs that it was not the fact, they found it absolutely necessary, to save their amour propre, to bring back something from Ottawa in order that they might continue the delusion for a little longer time. There were large questions which might to some degree have helped in the solution of world problems, but they were side-tracked, and the whole force of the Conference was concentrated upon the tariff issue. The result is that what has been brought hack fails to deal with great matters like currency and migration. Instead of that we find these long lists—some items in which the hon. Baronet mentioned—which it is quite impossible for any person without special information to understand but which seem to have been received in the country with extreme coldness. Disillusionment is bound to come as regards Ottawa. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Time will show why. I am quite prepared to wait for that time to come. [Interruption.] I am sure the right hon. Gentleman is also willing to wait.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The people of this country are not willing to wait. The people of this country, the unemployed, want a solution of their problem now, and that. is why I suggest that it is waste of time discussing these proposals at a time when far more important matters should be considered. Let me go back for a moment to the atmosphere in which these Agreements were come to. The Prime Minister told us that once it had been agreed to go to Ottawa it was essential for our delegates to enter into an 443 arrangement. The Minister of Agriculture, speaking up in Glasgow on 14th October, said this—or is reported to have said this:These agreements were an adventure. It might succeed, it might not succeed. We should make no mistake; the choice was between Ottawa and nothing.The last throw of the dice ! If one goes into negotiations in that spirit, one is apt to find that the other side take advantage of it. The Foreign Secretary will know that if a defendant approaches the plaintiff for a settlement with instructions that a settlement must be come to at all costs that is not a very happy position for the defendant. So it was at Ottawa, and that is why the Agreements which have been brought back are so biased in favour of the Dominions. Any results that may accrue to this country are at least problematical. Even hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite say we must wait and see what the results will be. So far as what this country has to pay it is not problematical, it is certain, fixed. There is no waiting to see what the results will he in that case. [Interruption.] An hon. Member says "Like Socialism." Perhaps he is also anxious to see what Socialism will bring. No doubt he will soon have the opportunity. Not only have we got the immediate increases in food taxation, including what the President of the Board of Trade looked upon as the last ditch of the Free Traders, wheat, but in addition to that we have quota schemes designed to raise the price of meat, with no regulations for retail prices. That, surely, is definite enough. But bad though the bargain itself may be, in our opinion its reaction on the world position is even more damaging. It has been said by the Foreign Secretary that tariffs are a bargaining weapon. Such a weapon as we have was put in the hands of the Government last February. Tariffs have not in the past shown themselves to be a very valuable weapon for reducing tariffs. All the experience has been that they have led to gradually increasing tariff walls throughout the world.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I will deal with Ottawa in a moment. Otherwise, why, with all these fully equipped bargainers in the world in the past, have we seen 444 gradually rising walls of tariffs? It is to be borne in mind that we have at least been able to obtain the Most Favoured Nation Clause in all our commercial treaties. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but I think if the Foreign Secretary had asked the Board of Trade to give him their view on the Most Favoured Nation Clause he would find they attach the very greatest importance to it. Many traders in this country have in the past attached the greatest importance to it. We were at least able to get that without any tariffs.
But be that as it may, what has Ottawa added to our bargaining power so far as tariffs are concerned? It has added nothing, but has taken away a great deal. In every case where we have agreed to continue fixed tariffs under the Ottawa arrangements we have taken away our bargaining power on those items. If one looks through those items and looks at the countries with whom we may particularly want to bargain—Scandinavia, the Argentine or the Netherlands—one will find that those are the very items with which those countries are in many eases most vitally concerned. So far as a bargaining weapon is concerned, the net result of the Ottawa Agreements is to reduce the utility of the tariffs that we had before for bargaining with foreign countries. Looking into a wider range than mere bargaining, it cannot he denied that the results of these arrangements have been greatly to increase the tariff barriers, quotas and prohibitions of the world. The Lord President of the Council, speaking in this House on 16th June on the policy of the Government with regard to Ottawa said:I have written it down for the purpose of greater accuracy.and then he read these words:The general objective is freer trade or, if you like the phrase better, reciprocal Free Trade within the Empire, or the nearest practicable approach to it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th June; col. 654–55, Vol. 267.]The approach has not been very close. In the case of Australia, in every instance except two, duties have been raised against the foreigner. That is not going to make for freer trade. [An HON. MEMBER: "Within the Empire."] No, the right hon. Gentleman's objective was not freer trade within the Empire only. He said, on more than one occasion, and 445 it has been said by many people—[HON. MFIMBES: "Read it again!"]—I am not going to read it again. Any hon. Member can read it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The right hon. Gentleman, I know, will not deny the proposition that he has always held the view that it was desirable that Ottawa should lead to freer trade conditions as a whole. He agrees with that proposition. [Interruption.] Some hon. Member says, "So it will." It is a little difficult, when hundreds of duties have been set up in the world, to see how it is going to lead to freer trade. Probably he has a different understanding from that which I have of the term "freer trade." Further quotas, further prohibitions. This Motion, which no doubt the Committee will pass to-night, almost unanimously perhaps, will not make the position any better.
The Board of Trade is given power to put prohibition on articles coming from foreign countries. We all know that the prohibition is particularly aimed at Russia. With these fresh barriers being raised, one thing is certain, and that is that the general world economic condition is going to worsened. It may be that hon. Members desire that result. It may be that they think that the price that will be paid in unemployment throughout the world, if world trade is further clogged, is worth the result. In our view, it is not worth the result. In our view, any steps that are being taken by any country to increase trade barriers, is going further to stop distribution of commodities and further to reduce the power of consumption. It is that problem of getting distribution by increasing the power of consumption that has to be got over before we can cure, in this country or anywhere else, the problem of unemployment. That is one of the main reasons why we believe that saddling this country for five years, in critical times such as these, with a system that is bound to be a clog upon trade, is going in the face of the whole of world experience in this matter.
Let me say one word as regards Russia. The trade agreement with Russia is to be denounced. It is suggested by some hon. Members that that will not have any effect upon Russian trade. We had the experience in 1925 of the rupture of the trade agreement with Russia. Anybody who likes to look at the figures of 446 the exports to Russia from this country can easily see what effect that rupture had. We are not dealing, in Russia, with a country where orders come through ordinary exporting or importing firms. [Interruption.] We are dealing with a country where the Government give the orders—[Interruption]—the state of affairs that will exist here when this country becomes more sensible. The result of the abrogation of the trade treaty on the last occasion was to make the exports fall from £18,000,000 to £1,500,000. Can we afford at the present time, either for reasons of Imperial sentiment or for any other reason, to lose trade to the extent of perhaps £10,000,000? As far as I can see, nothing in these Agreements is going to make up for that loss.
One word about, the matter of quotas. The right hon. and gallant Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) suggested that quotas were an instalment of Socialism. I wish they were. These quotas are not the sort of quotas which will be put on by the Socialist Government. They are quotas with unregulated retail prices. As he noticed, and mentioned, that is a fatal defect in any quota. They are quotas that are put on in a State where there is no planned control of imports as a whole. We believe that this method of arranging trade, on pressure from private vested interest, is essentially a different thing from arranging it under the control of the Government as a whole. [Interruption.] Some Members say "Oh, Oh !" when private vested interests are mentioned. Since I have been sitting here to-night., I have had a letter from a private vested interest asking me to put forward a certain point of view upon a particular article covered by these treaties. It was not from a, member of our party.
We certainly agree that you must have regulation of trade, but we do not agree that you can pick out a single isolated article of this sort and regulate it, without regulating the retail price of it as well. If these proposals were truly a step in the direction of ordered planning in trade, we might welcome these Agreements as a first instalment of Socialism. Unfortunately we cannot. The Foreign Secretary, at the end of his extraordinarily able speech, made an appeal to the House to support these proposals, good or bad. He said that 447 even if they were very bad, he would support them because of the crisis in which the country finds itself. Are we to be told that we must support every bit of Tory policy because there is a crisis? Is everything, whether we believe it to be for good or for bad, to be supported because the Tory party in a large majority want it? I suggest to the Committee that, when it comes to being unable to argue on the merits of a proposal, when it becomes necessary to appeal to sentiment, the proposal stands self-condemned. [Interruption.]
The House, in its present frame of mind, vastly prefers a few fine phrases about our brothers over the seas, but this matter has got to be judged, in the long run, by hard economic facts. I am sure that the Lord President of the Council, when he comes to reply, will tell us that we must man the pumps, and breast the slope, and see the dawn coming over the horizon; but surely it is not by arguments of that sort that the House of Commons is going to be convinced. The system which believes in either tariffs or Free Trade as a solution for the present difficulty stands, we believe, already condemned. Whether it he the Levites or the Sittites, we believe that neither of them are offering any cure for the present state of this country. Sooner or later the Government has got to get down to the real problem, which the Prime Minister stated—the problem, which is a social problem, relating to the constitution of society itself; and until that constitution is altered, until the national interest and national control take the place of private interests and private control, we believe that the problem will prove to be insoluble.
§ The LORD PRESIDENT of the COUNCIL (Mr. Baldwin)
Until that happy day dawns—I will try to bring in one dawn for the sake of the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps)—when the hon. and learned Gentleman gives out all the orders from this country to foreigners, we must confine ourselves to the business that is before the Committee. I am sorry I have made so little impression on the hon. and learned Member that he confuses my methods of myosis with the 448 oratory of my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George).
I agreed entirely with one observation that the hon. and learned Gentleman made, though not for the reason that caused him to make it. I think that it is at the same time a very easy task and a. very difficult task to reply in this Debate—easy because there can be no arguments, difficult because everything that can be said has been said. But one or two interesting events have taken place during these discussions, and nothing has interested me more than the effect on the oratory of two of my Highland Friends who have been linked together for a year—the Prime Minister and the right hon. and gallant Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair). The moment they are free from each other, there has come a certain liveliness, a certain sense of exuberance and freedom, which neither of them has exhibited in this House for 12 months. I should like, if I may, just, to correct my right hon. and gallant Friend. He said that he had been told, since the conclusion of the Conference, that it was we who had pressed for the term of five years, because others had desired a shorter term. The contrary was the fact; and, generally speaking, in the case of all reports that emanated from Ottawa, the answer is, "The contrary was the fact." In every Dominion, as in this country, there is an Opposition as well as a Government and in each Dominion, as in this country, had the term been a long one, the complaint would have been that it was too short and, had it been short, that it was too long. I think we can leave the subject there.
I hope very much, too, that after this Debate, although I can feel no confidence in it, we may hear the last of the constitutional question. I never heard a more davastating speech than that of my right hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend—I was going to have said the late Home Secretary but that is rather like an undertaker's description—I have worked with him more or less cordially for a year. The only thing that I know to his detriment where he differs from me is that he is an intellectual and I am not. He never acknowledges himself to be in the wrong. Not long ago a learned don, from that famous university of whose culture he is a repre- 449 sentative, who never would admit himself in the wrong, met a friend and said, "Do you know that yesterday I met Mrs. So-and-So, who is your sister?" "No," said his friend, "not my sister; she is my aunt." "I think," said the don rather acidly, "that on reflection you will find that she is your sister."
I desire to say a few words on the subject of Russia, because I do not think the situation has been clearly apprehended in the House. You may take the view that some people do, perfectly honestly, that it is wrong to trade at all with Russia either on moral grounds or on the ground that you hope that by not trading with her you will be able to break up her economic system. I can appreciate and respect both those grounds, but those are not the grounds of the Government. We do not desire to stop trade with Russia. We regard the employment of our own people as a great deal more important. But long before Ottawa, we had investigated the existing Agreement, which was made in 1930, and there is a drawback in that Treaty that wants rectifying, and we want to rectify it, and I will tell the House quite clearly what it is. It is based on most-favoured-nation treatment. That means that we can import goods into Russia at tariff rates no greater than those levied on similar goods imported from any other country, and we in return give similar privileges to Russian goods in this country. But that is only in words. In practice the most-favoured-nation clause, as affecting both parties, does not exist, for the very reasons mentioned from the benches opposite. Trade is completely in the hands of the Russian Government, and they can effectively exclude British goods without any tariff by merely placing orders with our competitors instead of with ourselves. It is one-sided.
The result has been that the trade which we do with Russia is but a fraction of the trade which they do with us. Therefore, we think that it is time that that Agreement should come to an end. We have told them at the same time that we are perfectly willing, if they wish, to make a new agreement, but in the nature of that we must safeguard our own position and see, as the State in Russia is the sole arbiter of where orders go, that we have a better proportion of the trade than we have had before, and that we 450 have the power, in the event of any imported goods being directed against any of our home industries, of stopping it, as we should not have had under the Agreement as it stands. I have no reason at all but to think that negotiations will begin shortly.
In the time that is left, I will offer some considerations to the House on the Conference itself. Our late colleagues who left us saw us depart for Ottawa with their full approval, and I confess that I am puzzled to know what they would have had us do. We could not risk failure for reasons which I am going to give. We worked hard to ensure success, and by success I mean making Agreements which can be defended and justified before this House, and, ultimately, before the people. We succeeded in doing that. My right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) also said—and I think quite truly and correctly—that in these matters it is necessary to look forward, I think he said to 10, 20 or 30 years. That is a long time, and it is impossible to say what the economic results of any particular action at any particular moment may be so long ahead. All the same, in this work we did try to look forward. I will try to look forward in the estimate which I propose to give to the House now.
Let us consider for a few moments what would have been the results of failure, by which I mean the failure to come to any agreement at all. The results would he manifold. First of all, when men have been negotiating for some time and have failed, it does not always leave it very good feeling behind. No one is satisfied with what has happened. It would, in my view, and in the view of the Prime Minister and his colleagues, though not in the view of the Opposition, have made it more difficult to proceed with the World Conference for the very same reason that we give, and it is this, that everyone would say, "Here you—Great Britain—have come into this Conference. You have just had a meeting of your own people, speaking the same language, understanding each other, and you cannot agree. What is your moral right to tell us that we have to agree?" It would also have diminished our influence, it seems to me, in all other conferences for the same reason. A stigma would attach to a great nation such as we are if we had absolutely failed 451 in attempting to come to an economic agreement with the Dominions. I think those are the results that would have followed upon failure, and I think that more serious results would have been behind, results that would have become of greater gravity in the process of the years. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been twitted during the Debate with more than one observation that he has made, particularly that observation—I forget the exact words—about the Empire ties wearing thin. I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend. There has been throughout the Empire, as throughout the world, a remarkable growth in the spirit of nationality since the War. Nationality may be a good spirit or it may be a bad one, one has seen reactions in both ways, but it is always a spirit that has to be treated with respect. Undoubtedly, suffering as they all are, as we are, as the world is, economically, there is a feeling throughout the Dominions of looking to see where they can get economic assistance. They looked to us first. If we had failed at Ottawa that would not have been the end of the story.
We have been asked, even during this Debate: Why have you not done something with that weapon of the tariffs which you have demanded? The answer is quite simple. We have said all along that until Ottawa was out of the way and until the Imperial policy was declared and settled, if it could be, we were not in a position to negotiate with foreign countries. We were criticised for that, but that was our position. Incidentally, Ottawa now is out of the way, and we are going straight on with such negotiations. To come back to the point where I was, had Ottawa failed we should certainly then have started, not in the light of Ottawa, as we are going to start now, but with no Ottawa. There would have been little consideration for Imperial interests in those negotiations, and the Dominions would have been obliged to have sought economic assistance. I shall make that point a little clearer, I hope, in a few minutes. There would have been real danger to our economic future in what might under those circumstances in Canada and South Africa. Were Canada to be brought into any other than the 452 Imperial orbit, economically, it would only be a matter of time before she might be completely sealed up against our trade, and there would be a real danger of her being sealed up against emigration from this country. Those are real dangers, obvious dangers, which I think would have followed, as sure as night follows day, had we failed at Ottawa. We have not failed at Ottawa, but, in spite of what has been said here and there, and particularly by the last speaker, I have, as far as I know, not spoken in any exaggerated terms of what has been accomplished because I know perfectly well that time alone will justify what has been done and prove whether we were right or wrong. I believe that we were right and that the foundations are sound.
What have we to put on the credit side as regards the success at Ottawa; I do not mean in pounds, shillings and pence. The right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) asked perfectly naturally, as anyone speaking from the Front Opposition Bench would ask: What have you got out of all this, what does it mean in trade? I answer quite frankly: I do not know; no one knows. What we have done is to make the way a great deal easier, and it is up to British business men to seize the advantages which we believe we have made for them. It lies with business men to take advantage of the opportunities which are given. We can now also proceed with the negotiations with foreign countries. The older I grow the less disposed I am to be a seer or a prophet, although I believe that is the prerogative of the old. I have heard many prophecies during the last few days in this House, but none more definite and dogmatic than that any negotiations conducted now with any country must be a failure. I am content to wait and to leave it in the skilled hands of the Foreign Secretary and the President of the Board of Trade to see what they can do. I believe that they will do a great do to help British trade.
I listened to the delightful speech of the right hon. Member for Caithness and it is really very difficult to know what does satisfy him. We obviously did not satisfy him when we went to Ottawa. He objects to a tariff policy because it is a Tory policy and he objects to our practising meat control because it is a Socialist policy. I cannot sympathise 453 with him there. Whether our Measure, in the exact form in which we can undertake this difficult but necessary task is called a Socialist Measure or a Liberal Measure or a Tory Measure really leaves me absolutely cold. A year ago we were prepared to adopt any and every means after examination which would react for the benefit of trade, industry and employment in this country. I will leave it there.
I would like to say one word apropos of what the right hon. Member for Wakefield said about judging so quickly of the failure, as they call it, of tariffs and the Ottawa Agreements. It is a pity that they do not exercise the patience which was shown in the economic document published in June by the Trades Union Congress, in which they specifically refrained from passing judgment on tariffs, because they said with perfect truth that judgment could not be passed for two or three years. That, of course, is the truth and the obvious truth. Having regard to the fact that we are changing a system which has been in operation for 80 or 90 years at a time like the present and having regard to the forestalling which takes place and the stocks available in this country, I do not think it is possible for anyone to say whether tariffs have proved themselves to be a great success or a great failure. But let everyone be sure, we shall know long before the next election whether they have succeeded or not. I have always said that the ultimate test is the employment of our people.
In speaking about what, we have obtained I wish to say one or two things on the imponderables, the things that cannot be weighed or assessed. This is the first conference at which the representatives of the peoples of the whole Empire have been able to talk with perfect freedom, by which I mean that no means or measure of economic help was barred. Naturally, conversations have been of a very frank nature. But I am confident that the Members of the present Governments throughout the Empire have a far better comprehension not only of each other's needs, but, what is equally important, of each other's difficulties, than they ever had before. It is interesting to think that in the Dominions now, anxious as they have been to make these Agreements, they recognise freely and ungrudgingly the prior right of people 454 at home even to their own people; they recognise that we have to look after our own people. I think they understand that in a way that they never have before.
The spirit of co-operation was in excess of what I have seen in any previous Conference. It was marked particularly from South Africa, a Dominion which in the past has approached Imperial co-operation with perhaps more hesitating steps than others. Nothing could have been more frank, more free, more helpful than the discussions we had with Mr. Havenga and his colleagues. I would like to say here what pleasure it gave all of us to see for the first time Indians at that Conference. I know perfectly well that there is truth in what the Leader of the Opposition said. I heard what the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Dingle Foot) said last night. All I would say at the moment is that at a time like this I consider it to be of the greatest value, whether those Indians be representative of the Government or of industries, or whatever they were, that they should have talked with representatives from every part of the Empire and should have seen what that great spirit of the British Commonwealth of Nations, represented as a whole at Ottawa, meant. I only wished, when I saw those five gentlemen there, that there had been 100 of them instead of five.
The hon. and learned Gentleman expressed regret that nothing was done about migration. Of course, it is perfectly obvious to anyone who knows the Dominions that nothing could be done at the moment. It would have been waste of time in the few weeks that we had to have raised it. But I can say this, that the only chance of increasing migration in the Dominions is to see that they are more prosperous, and, until the purchasing power of their great agricultural communities is restored, it will be impossible for them to open their doors any wider than they are open now. But in spite of what the hon. and learned Gentleman said we have as a net result lower tariff barriers. He must remember and the Committee must remember that the whole tradition of Australia is very high Protection, and of industrial Canada, high Protection, and I must say that to me it is a wonderful thing that we have got this Article in the Australian Agreement: 455His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertake that during the currency of this Agreement the tariff shall be based on the principle that protective duties shall not exceed such level as will give United Kingdom producers full opportunity of reasonable competition.They give an undertaking in the next Clause to review their tariffs. It is quite true that these are benefits for us. But in regard to a country like that, we had this advantage, or we should never have been able to make the progress we did. There is a revulsion in Australia to-day in many sections of the community not against tariffs but against the extreme tariff system, and it has been brought about by very much the same causes as those which led to a revulsion of feeling a year ago against hon. Gentlemen opposite. In Canada the same thing has resulted from an entirely different angle. Canada is suffering from the poverty of her primary producers just as much as is Australia—her Western provinces, her lumber and her wheat. Therefore, the purchasing power of the country has fallen, and, for the time being, the restoration of the prosperity of that portion of the community is the most anxious care of the Government of Canada. So, to that extent, the stars in their courses were fighting for us, and we have got an opportunity, if our manufacturers will utilise it to the full, an opportunity which I could not have believed possible 12 months ago, and which I certainly never expected to obtain when I left for Ottawa two months ago.
On the question of tariff boards, I should like to say a word. Of course, it is very easy to say, and I have heard it said in Canada, that tariff boards mean nothing, that they are worked by the Government and all kinds of things meant to prove that they would be of no use at all. Tariff boards on the lines discussed at Ottawa, which are included in these Agreements, are a new experiment in the Dominions in which they are being tried. All I say is this. Let us trust the good faith of the Dominions as we should trust our own. Very likely, being human beings, they may make their mistakes in the early days of these tariff boards. Many countries have done that; we may ourselves some time. Let us have patience with them and trust them, as I do, and as we all do who made these Agreements, 456 and if they carry them out, as I have every reason to believe they will make an honest endeavour to do, and they carry them out in the spirit of the Agreements as well as in the letter, I think it will be a very good day's work for the Dominions themselves and a very good day's work for British industry. We have also, I think, among all the Dominions who were represented there, a common ideal of co-operation. We all, I think, by the time we left, in spite of many difficulties and much hard bargaining, as my right hon. Friend called it—and all bargaining is hard——
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
That is the phrase of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery).
§ Mr. BALDWIN
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. In spite of all that, there was a genuine spirit of co-operation that grew up during the Conference, and I think it grew up from that knowledge of each other that had been obtained during those arduous weeks. Though my right hon. Friend used that phrase, with which he has been charged in this House, about Ottawa being "the gate to prosperity," I think that is a perfectly legitimate figure of speech to use, because even if we may not yet see that prosperity in the immediate future, I am perfectly certain that had the Ottawa Agreements not been concluded, there would have been no prosperity at all in this country for years to come.
Before I conclude I do want, from my point of view, to say just one word or two to my old colleagues. It is the last time I shall say anything about our differences of opinion. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary had every right to converse with them, having been members of the same party for all their political lives. I have always 1peen in opposition to those in that party but, after all, my position a year ago was a peculiar one, because I came into that Government at the same time as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen, but I am sure he will do me the justice to acknowledge that I used every endeavour in my power, in my position as Leader of my party, to keep the machine together.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
The one thing I cannot quite understand is this: My right 457 hon. Friend and those who followed him were a little apt to speak in the country, perhaps with some complacency, of how they came and joined with us to effect a certain work, that that work is accomplished and they can now leave us. Had the balancing of one year's Budget been the task that lay before us, I could have accepted that view, but our task was far, far more than that. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said earlier in the afternoon, it is quite true one Budget has been balanced but the trade of the country is still in an appalling condition, which means that there can be no improvement in the revenue. Knowing nothing about the finances of the country at this moment, it must be obvious to anyone that even the revenue that is now coming in from Customs may possibly be largely offset by the inevitably progressive decrease in the returns of Income Tax, Super-tax and Death Duties, and when you have regard to the position of unemployment, to the appalling difficulties of the problems connected with the administration of relief, with the certainty that you must have legislation in the near future, with disarmament, with India; and above all when you know it is impossible to maintain that spirit in which the country put this Government into power a year ago, in the hope that so many of them had that the change
§ to better times would be reached—"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick"—if ever there was a time when men ought to stick together in the toughest job a Government has ever had, it seems to me that the present time was one.
§ It must be from a very, very profound sense and certainty of moral rectitude—and I used the word seriously, in no light spirit—that a mats must feel that he can take a step like this at this moment, and yet the cheers of his partisans may not quite drown those obstinate questionings as to whether one has done right that come to one sometimes in the small hours of the morning. But this Government is still—it may not be perhaps to the same degree, but it is still—a National Government in spirit. I do not believe that we are going to fail. I believe that we are going to win through. But it is going to be a desperately hard course to fight, and there is not one man supporting the Prime Minister now who is going to fall out, God willing, until the task is either completed and won, or till we have spent ourselves to the last ounce and been beaten.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 451; Noes, 84.461
|Division No. 307.]||AYES.||[11.0 p. m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Campbell. Rear-Admi. G. (Burnley)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.)||Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Blaker, Sir Reginald||Caporn, Arthur Cecil|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Boothby, Robert John Graham||Cassels, James Dale|
|Alexander, Sir William||Bossom, A. C.||Castlereagh, Viscount|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Boulton, W. W.||Castle Stewart, Earl|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Boyce, H. Leslie||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Chalmers, John Rutherford|
|Apsley, Lord||Bracken, Brendan||Chamberlain, Rt.Hon.SirJ.A.(Birm.,W)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Brass, Captain Sir William||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Choriton, Alan Ernest Leofric|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Broadbent, Colonel John||Christie, James Archibald|
|Bailllie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Clarke, Frank|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexharn)||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Clayton Dr. George C.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Browne, Captain A. C.||Clydesdale, Marquees of|
|Balniel, Lord||Buchan, John||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Colfox, Major William Philip|
|Bateman, A. L.||Burghley, Lord||Colman, N. C. D.|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Conant, R. J. E.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Burnett, John George||Cook, Thomas A.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th.C.)||Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Cooke, Douglas|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Butter, Richard Austen||Cooper, A. Duff|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Butt. Sir Alfred||Courtauld, Major John Sewell|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.|
|Bevan. Stuart Janice (Holborn)||Caine, G. R. Hall-||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||McLean, Major Alan|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Harbord, Arthur||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Hartington, Marquess of||Macmillan, Maurice Harold|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootie)||Hartland, George A.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Harvey, George (Lambeth,Kenningt'n)||Magnay, Thomas|
|Cross, R. H.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Maitland, Adam|
|Crossley, A. C.||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Martin. Thomas B.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Heneage. Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Hepworth, Joseph||Meller, Richard James|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Millan, Sir James Duncan|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.).|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Denville, Alfred||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Milne, Charles|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Hornby, Frank||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'rd & Chisw'k)|
|Dickie, John P.||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Dixey, Arthur C. N.||Horobin, Ian M.||Mitcheson, G. G.|
|Doran, Edward||Horsbrugh, Florence||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Drewe, Cedric||Howard, Tom Forrest||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Duckworth. George A. V.||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)|
|Eady, George H.||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Eales, John Frederick||Hurd, Sir Percy||Morrison, William Shephard|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Moss, Captain H. J.|
|Eden, Robert Anthony||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)||Muirhead, Major A. J.|
|Edge, Sir William||Iveagh, Countess of||Munro, Patrick|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Jackson. Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Murray-Philipson, Hylton Ralph|
|Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Nail, Sir Joseph|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Jamieson, Douglas||Nall-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Jennings, Roland||Newton, Sir Douglas George C.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Normand, Wilfrid Guild|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Nunn, William|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Ker, J. Campbell||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Ormiston, Thomas|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Kerr, Hamilton, W.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Kimball, Lawrence||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Fermoy, Lord||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Patrick. Colin M.|
|Fleiden, Edward Brocklehurst||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Knebworth, Viscount||Pearson. William G.|
|Flint, Abraham John||Knight, Holford||Peat, Charles U.|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Knox, Sir Alfred||Penny. Sir George|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Fremantie, Sir Francis||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Peters, Dr. Sidney John|
|Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Law, Sir Alfred||Petherick, M.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Peto, Sir Bash E. (Devon, Barnet pie,|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Leckie, J. A.||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bliston)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada|
|Gledhill, Gilbert||Lees-Jones, John||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Leigh, Sir John||Potter, John|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Goff, Sir Park||Levy, Thomas||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Goldie, Noel B.||Lewis, Oswald||Preston, Sir Waiter Rueben|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Liddall, Walter S.||Procter. Major Henry Adam|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Purbrick, R.|
|Graham, Sir Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Pybus, Percy John|
|Granville, Edgar||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Llewellin, Major John J.||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Graves, Marjorie||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Greases-Lord, Sir Walter||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G.(Wd.Gr'n)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Greene, William P. C.||Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Ramsden, E.|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Rankin, Robert|
|Grimston, R. V.||Lymington, Viscount||Ratcliffe, Arthur|
|Gritten. W. G. Howard||Lyons. Abraham Montagu||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Ray, Sir William|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||McCorquodale, M. S.||Reid. David D. (County Down)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Remer, John R.|
|Hammersley, Samuel S.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.|
|Hanbury, Cecil||McEwen, Captain J. H. F||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||McKie, John Hamilton||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Rosbotham, S. T.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Train, John|
|Ross, Ronald D.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Soper, Richard||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Runge. Norah Cecil||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tside)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Rutherford, Sir John Hugo||Stevenson, James||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Salmon, Major Isidore||Stewart, William J.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Salt, Edward W.||Stones, James||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Storey, Samuel||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Stourton, Hon. John J.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Strauss, Edward A.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Strickland, Captain W. F.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Scone, Lord||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Selley, Harry R.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Summersby, Charles H.||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Sutcliffe, Harold||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Show, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Tate, Mavis Constance||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Taylor,Vice-Admiral E.A.(P'dd'gt'n,S.)||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Templeton, William P.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Skelton, Archibald Noel||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Slater, John||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)||Womersley, Walter James|
|Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Thompson, Luke||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-In-F.)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Wragg, Herbert|
|Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Thorp, Linton Theodore||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Somervell, Donald Bradley||Touche, Gordon Cosmo||Captain Margesson and Mr. Blindell.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro',W.)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Groves, Thomas E.||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Banfield, John William||Grundy, Thomas W.||Maxton, James|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, F, (York, W.R., Normanton)||Milner, Major James|
|Bernays, Robert||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Briant, Frank||Harris, Sir Percy||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hicks, Ernest George||Price, Gabriel|
|Buchanan, George||Hirst, George Henry||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cape, Thomas||Holdsworth, Herbert||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Janner, Barnett||Rothschild, James A. de|
|Cove, William G.||Jenkins, Sir William||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cowan, D. M.||John, William||Sinclair, Ma). Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Johnstone. Harcourt (S. Shields)||Thorne, William James|
|Curry, A. C.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dagger, George||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Wellhead, Richard C.|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kirkwood, David||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||White, Henry Graham|
|Edwards, Charles||Lawson, John James||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Leonard, William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Foot. Dingle (Dundee)||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Lunn, William||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v'n)||Mabane, William||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||McKeag, William|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Mr. C. Macdonald and Mr. D. Graham.|
§ IMPOSITION OF DUTIES IN FULFILMENT OF AGREEMENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENT MADE AT THE IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE HELD AT OTTAWA.
Motion made, and Question put,
|Class or description of Goods.||Rate of Duty.||Period during which Duty charged.|
|Wheat in grain||2s. per qtr. of 480 lbs.|
|Maize, flat, white||10per cent|
|Rice husked including cargo rice and cleaned including broken rice||1d. per 1b.|
|Butter||15s. per cwt.|
|Cheese||15 per cent|
|Eggs in shell—|
|(a) not exceeding 14 lbs. in weight per great hundred||1s. per great hundred.|
|(b) over 14 lbs. But not exceeding 17 lbs. in weight per great hundred||1s. 6d. per great hundred.|
|(c) over 17 1bs. In weight per great great hundred||1s. 9d. per great hundred.|
|Condensed milk, whole—|
|Not sweetened||6s. per cwt.|
|Sweetened or slightly sweetened||5s. per cwt.|
§ [Mr. Chamberlain.]
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 452; Noes, 85.469
|Division No. 308.]||AYES.||[11.15 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Choriton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Christie, James Archibald||Graham, Sir Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Clarke, Frank||Granville, Edgar|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.||Clarry, Reginald George||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Alexander, Sir William||Clayton, Dr. George C.||Graves, Marjorie|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Greene, William P. C.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Colfox, Major William Philip||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Colman, N. C. D.||Grimston, R. V.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Graten, W. G. Howard|
|Apsley, Lord||Conant, R. J. E.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Coin. Frederick Wolfe||Cook, Thomas A.||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Cooke, Douglas||Gunston, Captain D, W.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cooper, A, Duff||Guy, J. C. Morrison|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cranborne, Viscount||Hanbury, Cecil|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Craven-Ellis, William||Hanley, Dennis A.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Balniel, Lord||Crooke, J. Smedley||Harbord, Arthur|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||CrookShank, Ca C. de Windt (Bootle)||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hartland, George A.|
|Bateman. A. L.||Cross, R. H.||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Crossley, A. C.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Culverwell, Cyril 'tom||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Dalkeith, Earl of||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Davies, Maj. Geo.F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Hepworth, Joseph|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Davison, Sir William Henry||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hills. Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Bird Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Denville, Alfred||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)|
|Blinded, James||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Dickie, John P.||Hornby, Frank|
|Bossom, A. C.||Dixey, Arthur C. N.||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Doran, Edward||Horobin, Ian M.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Drewe, Cedric||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Duckworth, George A. V.||Howard, Tom Forrest|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Hewitt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Duggan, Hubert John||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)|
|Bracken, Brendan||Dung lass, Lord||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Eady, George H.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Eales, John Frederick||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Eastwood, John Francis||Hurd, Sir Percy|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Eden, Robert Anthony||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Edge, Sir William||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Brown,Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.|
|Brown,Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks.,Newb'y)||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Jamieson, Douglas|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Elmley, Viscount||Jennings, Roland|
|Buchan. John||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Jesson, Major Thomas E.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Joel, Dudley J. Barneto|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)|
|Burghley, Lord||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Erskine-Boist, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)|
|Burnett, John George||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Everard, W. Lindsay||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Kerr, Hamilton W.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Fermoy, Lord||Kimball, Lawrence|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Kirkpatrick, William M.|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Flint, Abraham John||Knebworth, Viscount|
|Campbell. Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)||Fox, Sir Gifford||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Fraser, Captain Ian||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Cassels, James Dale||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Law, Sir Alfred|
|Castle Stewart, Earl||Ganzoni, Sir John||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Leckie, J. A.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Gledhill, Gilbert||Lees-Jones, John|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Glossop, C. W. H.||Leigh, Sir John|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn. Sir J. A.(Birm.,W)||Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Goff, Sir Park||Levy, Thomas|
|Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring)||Goldie, Noel B.||Lewis, Oswald|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Liddall, Walter S.|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Pearson, William G.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunllife-||Peat, Charles U.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Penny, Sir George||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Percy, Lord Eustace||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Perkins, Waiter R. D.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. G'n)||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Soper, Richard|
|Locker-Lampson, Com.O. (H'ndsw'th)||Petherick, M.||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Pete, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bilston)||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Pike, Cecil F.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Lymington, Viscount||Potter, John||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Stevenson, James|
|MacAndrew, Lt..Col. C. G. (Partick)||Power, Sir John Cecil||Stewart, William J.|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Stories, James|
|McConnell, Sir Joseph||Preston, Sir Walter Rueben||Storey, Samuel|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham)||Purbrick, R.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Pybus, Percy John||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|McKle, John Hamilton||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Summersby, Charles H.|
|McLean, Major Alan||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Ramsden, E.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Rankin, Robert||Taylor,Vice-Admiral E.A.(P'dd'gt'n,S.)|
|Macpherson. Rt. Hon. James I.||Ratcliffe, Arthur||Templeton, William P.|
|Magnay, Thomas||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Maitland, Adam||Rea, Walter Russell||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-||Thompson, Luke|
|Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Martin, Thomas B.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Remer, John R.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Meller, Richard James||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.||Train, John|
|Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Millar, Sir James Duncan||Ropner, Colonel L.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Rosbotham, S. T.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Ross, Ronald D.||Wallace. Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Milne, Charles||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Mitchell. Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Mitcheson, G. G.||Runge, Norah Cecil||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tside)||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Rutherford. Sir John Hugo||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Moreing, Adrian C.||Salmon, Major Isidore||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Salt, Edward W.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Morrison. William Shephard||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Moss, Captain H. J.||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Munro, Patrick||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Murray-Philipson, Hylton Ralph||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Nail, Sir Joseph||Scone, Lord||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Nall-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.||Salley, Harry R.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Newton, Sir Douglas George C.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Nicholson. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Wolmer. Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Womersley, Walter James|
|Nunn, William||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|O' Donovan. Dr. William James||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Slater, John||Wragg, Herbert|
|Ormiston, Thomas||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'oaks)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Palmer, Francis Noel||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Patrick, Colin M.||Smith, Louis W, (Sheffield, Hallam)||Sir Frederick Thomson and Dr. Morris-Jones.|
|Peake, Captain Osbert||Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Cripps, Sir Stafford||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Curry, A. C.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Dagger, George||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur|
|Banfield, John William||Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)|
|Batey, Joseph||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Griffith. F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)|
|Bernays, Robert||Devlin, Joseph||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Edwards, Charles||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Briant, Frank||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Buchanan, George||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)|
|Cape, Thomas||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Harris, Sir Percy|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v'n)||Hicks, Ernest George|
|Cove, William G.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Hirst, George Henry|
|Holdsworth, Herbert||McKeag, William||Sinclair, Ma). Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Janner, Barnett||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Thorne, William James|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow. Govan)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|John, William||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Mender, Geoffrey le M.||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Maxton, James||White, Henry Graham|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||M liner, Major James||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Kirkwood, David||Nathan, Major H. L.||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Parkinson, John Allen||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Lawson, John James||Pickering, Ernest H.||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Leonard, William||Price, Gabriel||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Rea, Walter Russell||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Lunn, William||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Mabane, William||Rothschild, James A. de||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|McEntee, Valentine L.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Mr. G. Macdonald and Air. Groves.|